One Tin Soldier

OHW One Tin Soldier by krin.jpg

Date Aired
October 29, 2016
Running Time
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Todd plays "One Tin Soldier" on the piano in organ setting

A one-hit wonder retrospective

Todd: Greetings, boils and ghouls, and welcome to yet another One Hit Wonderland Spooktacular Edition! Yes, I do still have requests, but they are on hold because it's Halloween! Couldn't do this last year 'cause I thought I had run out of ideas, and there aren't very many Halloween-themed one-hit wonders. [Promo pic of the Cramps and album cover of GWAR - Carnival of Chaos] There are, of course, horror-themed bands, but they tend to be no-hit wonders. But one of my fans of Twitter—thank you, @DocScotticus—they actually did find one for me. A serious, [pic of Coven] no-shit, devil-worshiping band dating back to the dawn of heavy metal. That's right, one of the original shock rock bands: Coven!

Video of live performance of "Wicked Woman" (actually recording of song dubbed over)
Jinx Dawson: Wicked woman
You go to Hell

Todd (VO): Yes, today, we are covering a full-on witchcraft-themed band who would hold actual [picture of Jinx reading onstage] Satanic masses on its stage, and fronted by a woman, which is rare even now, let alone back in the late '60s.

Todd: Cool, right? Now, Coven is a pretty obscure band, and...

Todd (VO): fact, this is literally the only video footage I could find of them; there's just not a lot out there. I had to dig pretty hard for this one. But back in 1971, they did actually manage to creep into the Top 40...

Todd: ...with a song about one of metal's favorite subjects: [flashes the horn] war!

Clip of Black Sabbath - "War Pigs"
Ozzy Osbourne: Generals gathered in their masses

Todd (VO): I mean, who needs ghouls and goblins when the real world provides such terrors on its own, right? From Sabbath to Slayer, [clips of Metallica - "One" and System of a Down - "BYOB"] from Iron Maiden to System of a Down, the real-life horrors of war have always inspired metal's darkest, bloodiest, most chilling music.

Todd: So put on your facepaint, light some candles, draw a pentagram on the floor, and prepare to get your faces rocked on this Devil's Night, as we listen to Coven's biggest hit: "One...Tin...Soldier"!

Video for "One Tin Soldier." In the first few seconds, Todd lowers the horns in the shock of hearing something not metal at all.
Jinx: Listen, children, to a story
That was written long ago
'Bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley folks below.

Todd: What is this? What...what am I listening to?

Jinx: Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven

Todd (VO): This...this...what...this isn't metal. This...this is folk, protest, hippie shit. Is this a cartoon? Is this from a kids' show?!

Todd: Where's the blood?! Where's the devil worship?!

Jinx: On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away

Todd: [uh...] Happy Halloween? Why can't I have this one thing?! That's all I ask for, one... [Buries his face in his hands]

Jinx: There won't be any trumpets blowing

Before the hit

Todd: [resigned to it] Okay. Listen, children, to my story
It was written long ago
'Bout an awesome band named Coven
Formed in the late '60s in Chicago

"Wicked Woman" dubbed over performance
Jinx: She cuts a man's heart, making deep gashes

Todd (VO): Again, this is the only video footage of Coven I could find, so please ignore the shitty quality. This is their first single, "Wicked Woman"...

Todd: ...and it comes from their [cover of...] debut album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, which is A., awesome, and B., [Front page of The Mirror: "Kids in Satanic Sex Horror"] aptly serves as its own moral panic warning. It's like they were trying to come up with their own Jack Chick Tract.

Jinx: Wicked woman

Todd (VO): Now, I've been calling Coven metal. They were certainly a precursor to metal, but that's not really the word for them. They were more of a heavy psychedelic band, like [clip of "White Rabbit" by...] Jefferson Airplane, if they were really into goat sacrifice. [Promo pic] But while they predate metal, they didn't really like the psychedelic label either...

Todd: ...'cause, you know, that's [picture of two hippie chicks] flower child music. Do Coven look like a bunch of peace-loving hippies? Please, they would never, ever...

Alternate album cover featuring human sacrifice (with censored naked Jinx), followed by track listing

Todd (VO): Speaking of metal, you wanna know what the first song is off that album? Look at this: [circling the first song] "Black Sabbath." Well...

Todd: ...that sounds familiar. You know who else had a song named "Black Sabbath"? Black Sabbath!

Clip of Black Sabbath - "Black Sabbath"

Todd (VO): Most of what I know about Coven comes from people researching the origin of Black Sabbath because, well, geez, you know, Coven came out around the same time, they had a song called "Black Sabbath."

Todd: Get this: their bass player was named [close-up of album credit to...] Oz Osborne.

Todd (VO): Also, Coven's Secretary of State was named Kennedy, and Sabbath's Secretary of State was named Lincoln.

Todd: Eerie, right? Clearly, Sabbath were heavily influenced by Coven.

Clip of MTV interview from 1986
Martha Quinn: You ever see this album before? Coven?
Tony Iommi (lead guitarist of Black Sabbath): No.
Martha: This is a Chicago band; you know the songs performed?
Tony: No.
Martha: [close-up on lyrics of "Black Sabbath"] This has no...

Todd just looks on

Pics of Jinx

Todd: For what it's worth, Coven's lead singer, Jinx Dawson, calls total bullshit on this. She says Sabbath must've clearly been aware of them. So the question is, why did Sabbath get huge, not Coven?

Promo pic, following by brief clips of...

Todd (VO): I mean, Coven weren't nobodies. They toured with Alice Cooper and the Yardbirds, and they had a cult following...

Todd: ...that has...[getting the joke] heh, "cult following." But they did have a decent-size fan following, and in fact, they still do, so what happened?

Clip of "Iron Man"

Todd (VO): Well, the thing is, Sabbath was always pretty leery about associating themselves with any explicit Satanic symbols. They wrote dark stuff, and sometimes their label would put Satanic symbols on their album covers, but they weren't really a fan of that stuff.

Todd: Coven, meanwhile, Coven went all in on the whole Satanism bit.

Pic of band with quote: "We were a real practicing coven."

Todd (VO): Because this? This was not an act. Like, most shock rock bands, it is an act. You know, [Live footage of...] even die-hard KISS fans know Gene Simmons isn't an actual fire-breathing demon; he's just, [picture of Gene without makeup] you know, ugly, and a terrible person.

Todd: But Coven were legit.

The human sacrifice pic and another promo pic

Todd (VO): They did, in fact, practice witchcraft. Jinx was actually raised in the occult.

Todd: In fact, while the invention of the [demonstrating] metal sign is usually credited to [pics of...] Ronnie James Dio, there's good evidence that the first person to throw up the horns was actually her. [Album cover] She says it was her society's secret sign, and then Jinx spread it everywhere, and her old friends were really mad at her, she says.

Live footage of Black Sabbath

Todd (VO): But it turns out, Sabbath had the right idea...

Todd: ...keeping arms distance from full-on devil worship. For one, it means...

Album cover

Todd (VO): ...witchcraft didn't destroy their minds or reap their souls.

Todd: Drugs did that.

Todd (VO): But more importantly, the cult would become a bit of a hot-button issue, 'cause...

Todd: ...look, there was this guy...

News footage of...

Todd (VO): ...Charles Manson, and probably know this story.

Todd: So, after that, there were a bunch of [shots of McCall's article "Occult" by Nicholas Pileggi] panicky articles about Satanism, some of which mentioned Coven directly, so Mercury Records pulled all of their albums off the shelves, and...well, they decided to push Coven in a bit of a different direction.

The big hit

Todd: [sigh] Oh, God, do we have to do this part? Okay, so, there's this...

Clips from...

Todd (VO): ...great, cheesy, Kung Fu hippie movie called Billy Jack. Seriously, it's great. It's about this half-Native American ex-Green Beret played by a very, very not Native American actor, and he kicks ass for the hippies who can't kick any ass for themselves. It's a hippie...

Todd: ...peacenik action movie.

Todd (VO): It was very obviously a huge influence on cinematic auteur Steven Seagal. Oh, it's a lot of fun. Anyway, Billy Jack there, he was also the director, he needed a singer for the soundtrack. [Pics of...] Linda Ronstadt passed on it, but she referred Jinx to the project...

Todd: ...and Jinx said, "you know, why not?"

Todd (VO): I don't think she was expecting this low-budget nothing movie to become one of the biggest hits of the year.

Todd: Now, the song itself had been a

Single covers, in English and Japanese, of the original song by...

Todd (VO): ...minor hit a couple years earlier from the obscure Canadian band, the Original Caste, seen here looking much creepier than Coven, obviously. This is a group of people who run a quaint hotel in the English countryside [single cover is now completely purple] where they kill and eat their guests.

Todd: Anyway, "One Tin Soldier" was a [shot of record] #1 hit in Canada, placed at #38 in America, [album cover of Billy Jack soundtrack] and Coven's version a couple yeasr later didn't get much higher, only to #26. But it's had a long shelf life. You may remember this song from [clip of...] Rob Paravonian's famous "Pachelbel's Canon Rant."

Rob: Listen, children, to my story
It was written long ago
[Angrily hums the melody]

Todd (VO): Yeah, that's a funny bit.

Todd: Anyway, I don't have any footage of Coven singing it, but...

Video begins

Todd (VO): ...we do have this cartoon illustration that aired on the Sonny & Cher show. So...

Todd: ...let's take a listen.

Jinx: Listen, children, to a story
That was written long ago

Todd: Oh, boy, storytime.

Jinx: On a mountain was a treasure

Todd (VO): Okay, so there's the mountain people and the valley people, and those greedy valley people want the mountain people's treasure.

Jinx: And the valley people swore
They'd have it for their very own.

Todd (VO): I've always said this: you can't trust valley people. I know it's not politically correct to say, but valley people are greedy...

Todd: ...filthy scum! Anyway.

Jinx: Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend

Todd: I will say this: I do actually like the chorus a lot.

Todd (VO): It's weird to describe such a flower-power earnest song like this, but the song's main asset is the chorus's bitter, angry sarcasm.

Jinx: Do it in the name of heaven
You can justify it in the end.

Todd (VO): Like, "fine, just go ahead and be evil and awful, you stupid, violent hypocrites!"

Todd: Yeah, in the '60s, [pictures of a knight...] really, thousands of years, [...and...] there are people who profess love to Jesus, the original hippie, [...and Jesus holding a sawed-off shotgun and a cigarette dangling from His mouth] but a version of Jesus who is totally cool with blowing people up. So, yeah, this attack on self-serving hypocrisy is just dead-on.

Jinx: 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.
Came the answer from the kingdom,
With our brothers we will share,
All the riches of the mountain,
All the treasure buried there.

Todd: Well, that conflict was resolved pretty quickly.

Jinx: :With our brothers we will share,

Todd (VO): They roll over really easy for those valley people, didn't they?

Todd: Well, you know, I guess you can afford it, go right ahead.

Todd (VO): I do think the horns take away from the vibe a bit. It's a little too Vegas, or, [clip of "I'll Be There" by...] you know, a little too Jackson 5.

Todd: I mean, if you're gonna be peace-loving folkies, then be that.

Jinx: On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away.

Todd (VO): I do like the imagery of [package of Britain's Scale Models] a single toy soldier being all that's left after we all kill each other.

Todd: Now, don't you feel bad? Yeah, the chorus is way stronger than the verses.

Jinx: Now the valley cried with anger,
Mount your horses, draw your swords

Todd: Wait, wait, wait, stop. What just happened?

Jinx: And they killed the mountain people,
So they won their just rewards

Todd (VO): What, didn't the mountain people give them the treasure? And they still got slaughtered. Why didn't... I feel like proper diplomatic communication could've prevented this.

Todd: Or maybe not 'cause valley people are just the worst people.

Jinx: And they killed the mountain people,
So they won their just rewards
Now they stood before the treasure
On the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
"Peace on Earth" was all it said.
Go ahead...

Todd: [pause] Hold on, back up!

Todd (VO): Their treasure was a stupid rock that said, "peace on Earth"? Was it, like, a valuable mineral of some kind?

Todd: I think it was just a stupid rock!

Jinx: Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Todd (VO): No, no, hold up on the hating your neighbor; I still have questions about the goddamn rock! Who was calling it a treasure? Was it the mountain people? Were they bragging about a treasure they didn't have? Was the treasure supposed to be the message? "Peace on Earth"? Not much of a treasure, seeing as it didn't do the mountain people any good, or at least they didn't spread the message very well. I mean, I guess that there's peace on Earth now, now that the mountain people are all dead.

Jinx: One tin soldier rides away

Todd (VO): Look, none of that made any sense. It's supposed to be simple, like a fairy tale, but it doesn't work.

Todd: Here's how it's supposed to work.

Clips of...

Todd (VO): Look at The Lorax. The Lorax told me not to cut down trees, I cut down the trees anyway, and now there are no trees and I'm sad. See? Makes perfect sense. Are the...

Todd: ...valley people sad?

Todd (VO): I mean, at the very least, they have the mountain now. Do they even feel bad? Do they lose their souls? They seem to be pure evil from the beginning. And for a song about how war is evil, all I could think of is, the mountain people gave up like punks! Appeasement doesn't work.

Todd: Fight to the death!

Todd (VO): They should have slaughtered those valley-dwelling barbarians like the filthy vermin they are! Screw them! I mean, that war could've easily been won by the mountain people. They had the high ground; the advantage was theirs!

Jinx: Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Todd (VO): It's a stupid story, it's a stupid song for stupid drug-addled hippies. [Promo pic of band] I mean, you go from worshiping Satan to this?

Todd: Oh, geez, wait a minute. Is this what happens when you sell your soul to the Devil? You end up singing this for eternity. Oh, man, spooky.

The failed follow-up

Todd: This is [picture of...] the cover of their second album. Suffice to say, the Halloween portion of this video is over.

Todd (VO): I mean, look at this. What is this? Okay, one-eyed cat, faceless band members, that's kinda cool, but the white background, the font. Looks like a goddamn [picture of...] Carpenters album.

Todd: As for the actual failed follow-up song, I...I don't know exactly what it was.

Todd (VO): I mean, they put this album together after "One Tin Soldier" got big, but...

Todd: ...I think the only single [record of...] was a re-release of "One Tin Soldier," and this time, with the full band playing on it, 'cause [picture of...] the first time, it was really just Jinx solo. So...I don't know, I guess we'll just listen to the opening track.

Jinx: Sing my nightingale

Todd: Yeah, yeah. This sounds like an [clip of "Danny's Song" sung by...] Anne Murray song.

Anne: ...though we ain't got money
I'm so in love...

Todd (VO): And honestly, Coven had basically already broken up after their first album flopped, and Jinx had to put together an entirely new band to record a second album, know, that explains a lot.

Todd: Well, let's see what else is on here. They do a cover of "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley.

Pic of band as "Jailhouse Rock" plays
Jinx: Everybody, let's rock all night tonight
Well, everybody on the whole cell block

Todd (VO): It''s a very Meat Loaf-y version.

Todd: Which is fine, I like Meat Loaf.

Todd (VO): But after destroying minds with witchcraft, it really does feel like a letdown.

Todd: Well, let's see what their next album is.

Album cover with title track playing

Todd (VO): Blood on the S... aw, yeah! Yeah, that's more like it. [Clip of same] It even has a music video.

Coven: It's too hard to say no
Just like blood on the snow

Todd (VO): Now here's some music to sell your soul to. I am definitely feeling this. [Beat] Tragically, it did not save the band. When this album failed to sell, Coven called it quits.

Did they ever do anything else?

Todd: Um, not really.

Clips of Equalizers performance and unreleased footage from Heaven Can Help

Todd (VO): I mean, they tried reforming in the '80s as a New Wave band called the Equalizers, and Jinx did a little acting and modeling. That's about it. But when you're one of the pioneers of an entire genre, people tend to remember you.

Todd: And since the '90s, Jinx has [album cover of Metal Goth Queen] gotten a lot of attention as the original queen of the goths.

Clip of teaser for "Light the Fire"

Todd (VO): Since then, she's reformed Coven off and on, and she even released some music this year, so check that out.

Did they deserve better?

Todd: Yeah.

Clip of "Blood on the Snow"

Todd (VO): They were just too ahead of their time, is what happened. Imagine if they had a career that was driven by this and...

Todd: know, not this.

Jinx: Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend

Todd (VO): I just don't like this song. I mean, I like the chorus, but...the verses kill it for me. It just wasn't what Coven were made to do. It was a fluke soundtrack hit from a fluke movie hit. Not what they should've been doing.

Todd: Ah, what might have been. One tin demon rides away.

Gets up and leaves

Video ends

Closing tag song: Killdozer - "One Tin Soldier"

"One Tin Soldier" is owned by Warner Bros. Records
This video is owned by me


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