Elvis sings the devil’s song (One Tin Soldier)

tin soldier


So here’s the deal. There was an innocent little anti-war song sung by a Canadian band called The Original Caste. The song was called One Tin Soldier.

Later, the song was recorded by a band called Coven. They were a satanist band who saw the song not just anti-war but as a criticism of organized religion as well.

Soon after, their recording was used as the theme for the Billy Jack movie, and became a big hit.

An annoying fact that I can’t let slip by; This was the second movie featuring the Billy Jack character. He first appeared in the terrible biker movie The Born Losers.

So we have this big hit which because of its catchy tune nobody really dissects the words.

Other Versions

There are some wonderful variations that can be seen on YouTube. Some are live performances but the best are laid on top of an animation that was created for the song, with some odd diversions from the lyrics. (See the analysis section)

The creepiest is Elvis Presley’s. Yes, the Elvis, singing an anti-religion song. My favorite though is Cher’s. She was either stoned out of her mind or just didn’t give a shit. Hard to tell which.


If someone tells you they are a satanist, believe them. I’ve seen interviews with most of the members of Coven and they all agree that they saw the song as anti-religion. Why would they lie?

Despite this there are dozens of papers trying to explain the song in every other way. Many dismiss it as a hippy-dippy ant-war song and nothing more. Others ignore all the other lyrics and concentrate on the final line, “One tin soldier rides away.”

Then there are the over the top over-thinkers. As an over-thinker myself, these are the ones I enjoy the most. These are the ones that can’t accept the good guys vs. bad guys theme.

One group assumes that the “valley people” really are justified by God so whatever the do the “mountain people” is okay. Kind of like when the Israelites slaughtered the Canaanites in the bible.

There other gravitate to the word “share” in the mountain people’s response. To these minds sharing is communism and as communists they deserve to be slaughtered.

One Tin Soldier

The closing line and image is a “tin soldier” riding away. Due to it’s relationship with the movie many people think Billy Jack is the tin soldier. That of course, flies in the face of the usual metaphor of a tin soldier.

Since there first creation in the 1700’s the tin soldier was seen as the pawns of war. The front-line troops controlled by gods and generals far from the battlefield. Given that meaning, I see the one tin soldier as simply having no one else to fight. Can it be that simple?


I have a pet peeve about songs used for inappropriate purposes. Like a song about heroin addiction used to sell cruises. Or a song about being homeless used for a grocery delivery service.

When I came across the Elvis video of the song I just had to respond. So I wrote this as a way to continue to enjoy the song without worrying that I didn’t do my part to reveal the truth.

Kind of like, you can’t complain if you don’t vote.

Facebook LogoTwitter Logo
Author: Tom
Writer, cyclist, RVer, etc.

1 thought on “Elvis sings the devil’s song (One Tin Soldier)

  1. I know exactly which song you are referring to (without even having to YouTube it!) Guess I always liked it for all the wrong reasons → Thanks for your in depth analysis of the Song! Even creepier is that I read it while Rob Zombie’s Movie “The Lords of Salem” was playing in the background. O boy – I can’t trust anything anymore – Those little Devils (…or Devil Worshipers…) Tis the Season of Misgivings! Thanks for the update & clarification on the “One Tin Soldier” song. How Joyously Unsettling!!!

Comments are closed.