“One Tin Soldier” is a 60s era anti-war song written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. The Canadian pop group Original Caste first recorded the song in 1969. The track briefly reached limited popularity locally and reached Number 34 on the American pop charts in early 1970.
“One Tin Soldier” tells the abstract story of a hidden treasure and two neighboring peoples, the Mountain People and the Valley People. The Valley People are aware of a treasure on the mountain, buried under a stone; they send a message to the Mountain People demanding those riches. When told they can share the treasure, the Valley People instead decided to take it all by force. After killing all the Mountain People, the victors move the stone and find nothing more than a simple message: “Peace on Earth.” Ironically, the valley people destroyed the treasure in pursuit of it.
The Billy Jack connection:
Jinx Dawson of the band Coven sang the song at a 1971 session with the film’s orchestra as part of the soundtrack for the Warner Brothers movie Billy Jack. Jinx asked that her band, Coven, be listed on the recording and film, not her name as a solo artist. This Warner release, titled as “One Tin Soldier: The Legend of Billy Jack,” reached #17 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in fall 1971, only to be pulled from the charts as it was moving up by the Billy Jack film producers due to legal squabbles over the rights to the recording. The full Coven band then reluctantly re-recorded the song for their MGM album. Thus the MGM album containing a second version of this song displayed their whited-out faces on the cover, contrived again by the film’s producer Tom Laughlin. The recording then hit the charts again in both 1973 and 1974 near the end of the Vietnam War and the release of the film The Trial of Billy Jack. The Coven recording was named Number One All Time Requested Song in 1971 and 1973 by the American Radio Broadcasters Association. A slightly different version recorded by Guy Chandler (titled “One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)”) charted in summer 1973 (Wikipedia).