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Written by

Andrew Millar

Date

September 1, 2008

It’s funny how your mind recalls things.

I casually remarked to a friend the other day that I was studying flamenco guitar and heard myself say “It’s about as far from ‘Tin Soldier’ as you can get”. Terry and I used to play this Small Faces song in a band together years ago. But it was not until later that day that I thought much more about it.

‘Tin Soldier’ was one of my favourite songs in the late 60s. I was just 10 at the time but fell in love with it. Of course in true BBC tradition they banned the song because they thought the last line Steve Marriot sung was ‘All I want to do is sleep with you, because I love you…’ What he actually sings is ‘All I want to do is sit with you…”

To make this mistake you need to miss the point of the whole song. The lyric is based on the best-known tin soldier in literature. In Hans Christian Andersen’s 1838 fairy tale The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a tin soldier is created with only one leg because “he had been left to the last, and then there was not enough of the melted tin to finish him.” He is flawed but falls in love with a dancer made of paper. After much adventuring, including being swallowed by a fish, the two are consumed together by fire, leaving nothing but tin melted “in the shape of a little tin heart.”

It is ironic that Steve Marriot himself died in a house fire in 1991.

Marriott said “the song is about getting into somebody’s mind – not their body. It refers to a girl (Jenny Rylance) I used to talk to all the time and she really gave me a buzz. The single was to give her a buzz in return and maybe other people as well. I dig it. There’s no great message really and no physical scenes.”

A short time after the songs release Marriot married Jenny Rylance.

30 years pass and Mojo Magazine rated Tin Soldier as the 10th best single of all time. You had to look further down the list to find the Rolling Stones or The Who, yet most who were around then have forgotten this songs passion, simplicity and strength.

If you have forgotten, or have never heard it visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcKZoFRpZCI

It’s a time piece but enjoy.

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