"One Tin Soldier (Original Caste cover)" as written by Dennis Earle Lambert and Brian Potter....
Listen, children, to a story
That was written long ago
'Bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley-folk below

On the mountain was a treasure
Buried deep beneath the stone
And the valley-people swore
They'd have it for their very own

Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven
You can justify it in the end
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away

So the people of the valley
Sent a message up the hill
Asking for the buried treasure
Tons of gold for which they'd kill

It came an answer from the mountain
With our brothers we will share
All the secrets of our mountain
All the riches buried there

Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven
You can justify it in the end
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away

Now the valley cried with anger
"Mount your horses! Draw your sword!"
And they killed the mountain-people
So they won their just reward

Now they stood beside the treasure
On the mountain, dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
"Peace on Earth" was all it said

Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven
You can justify it in the end
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away

Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven
You can justify it in the end
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death

"One Tin Soldier" as written by Dennis Earle Lambert Brian Potter

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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One Tin Soldier (Original Caste cover) song meanings
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32 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentPerhaps the soldier is a reference to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier."

    An Oxford analysis of the tale states: "The tin soldier's passive acceptance of whatever happens to him, while exemplifying pietistic ideals of self-denial, also contributes to his doom. Were he to speak and act, the soldier might gain both life and love. Restrained, however, by inhibition and convention, he finds only tragedy and death."

    Some food for thought.
    MMACHfiveon September 08, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAh, right, also a major part of this song is that it's an attack on using religion as an excuse to justify a war or bloody mindedness. "Do it in the name of heaven you can justify it in the end" is sarcastic.
    Tamaranison July 07, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentCould there be some comparison made to a 'tin man', much like the one from the Wizard of Oz?

    If we recall, the Tin Man of the Oz story lacked a 'heart'.

    Could this be the significance? After the slaughter of the mountain people, the symbolic ONE tin soldier rides away could mean that the valley people were without a heart - and that nothing was learned from this experience.

    Why? Because of the wars and fighting that continue in the world - the 'Tin Soldier' who rode away from that battle on the mountain is the same Tin Soldier who fights in wars today.

    The singer seems to infer that those who fight in wars are without a heart. As this was a Joni Mitchell song from the 60's it is not coincidental that this could be a war protest song (Mitchell's antiwar stance was typical of the 'folk rockers' of the day).
    Orphon April 12, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell, the soldiers who fight in wars definitely aren't "tin soldiers." They're brave or hateful of full of bloodlust but they aren't cold or heartless.

    I think what the One Tin Soldier, signifies, Orph, is that there is no winning. He's on the victorious side, but he's hollow and he's gained nothing. So he just rides away and it comes off as being sad and broken.
    Tamaranison July 07, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell tin soldier usually would signify a toy soldier. So sorta how an army would be disposable. So I don't know how to tie this into the song. Maybe after a meaningless battle just one side is left all alone perhaps?
    Drill Biton May 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI am not sure if it is right, but to me, "one tin soldier" always referred to someone like Saint Peter who is supposed to grant entrance through the pearly gates. When the song states "But on the bloody morning after, / one tin soldier rides away" it means you are denied access. Judgment day came for you, but you were passed over and left behind (hence, him riding off alone.)

    I do agree with Orph's interpretation of the tin man to a point, but I do not think it is referring to the people in the valley having no hearts. The chorus, although it fits the story too, was more aimed at the "children" the song is being sang for. Telling them, that if you choose to sin and do wrong regardless of your reasoning, come judgment day, you will be left behind. In its own way, it is a very anti-war song since it is saying feel free to kill another person just because you are doing it for religious reasons, however, it is still a sin and you will still pay for it in the end.

    The reason I said I agree with Orph is because I think he used the term "tin soldier" as a euphemism to a suit of armor with no real soul or heart attached (like Wizard of Oz). On Judgment day, you will be judged for your actions and because of this, there is no excuse in the world that will save you if you have committed too many sins. The man guarding the gate is not going to let you list your excuses, he is merely there to look at what all sins you have committed and pass judgment without you really having the option to defend yourself. It is basically all black and white with no real gray area because there is no emotion in the the actual judgment (no heart).

    I love this song and love the message that people should be good and moral at all times, however, it is a bit preachy if you look too deeply into it.
    Desiaon November 08, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a great song. Its about people being too greedy and other people just wanting peace for everyone.
    f3120on June 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHeh, i sang this song in music class in.... third grade.
    o Peanut oon June 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSang it in 7th grade...I love this song!
    Kilikinaon June 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song just kinda gives you chills about how fucked up we are as a race humans suck theres no humanity in the human race
    rbfboy212on July 18, 2002   Link

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