Artist: Coven
Track: One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)
Album: Coven
Year: 1971

Theme: Protest Songs


My mother used to sing this song a lot when I was a kid. This and the traditional “Polly Vaughn.” I never actually heard the hit Coven version until high school, when I saw Billy Jack and it played over the closing credits. 

And I hated it. Still do, actually. Something about the Coven version strikes me as obscene, with all these instruments climbing over one another to be heard, and the too-fast tempo. The lyrics are thunderingly obvious in delivering their message, but when I was a kid, listening to my mother while she sang it as she did things around the house, that message always sounded so genuine, even if the path to it was contrived.

My mother has no musical training or background, but she does have a lovely voice for folk music, and because of her, this song will always be slow and mournful to me, and best sung unaccompanied. I can’t hear the Coven version without hearing hers as well.

Tags: Coven 1971