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"Universal Soldier"
Song by Buffy Sainte-Marie

from the album It's My Way!

Released 1964
Genre folk rock
Writer Buffy Sainte-Marie
It's My Way! track listing
Cripple Creek
"Universal Soldier"
Babe in Arms
"Universal Soldier"
EP-track by Donovan

from the album The Universal Soldier

Released 15 August, 1965
Genre folk rock
Length 2:16
Label Pye NEP 24219
Producer Terry Kennedy, Peter Eden, Geoff Stephens
The Universal Soldier track listing
Side one
  1. "Universal Soldier"
  2. "The Ballad of a Crystal Man"
Side two
  1. "Do You Hear Me Now?" (1:51, Bert Jansch)
  2. "The War Drags On" (Mick Softley)

"Universal Soldier" is a song written and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. The song was originally released on Sainte-Marie's debut album It's My Way! in 1964. "Universal Soldier" was not a popular hit at the time of its release, but it did garner attention within the contemporary folk music community. Sainte-Marie said of the song: "I wrote 'Universal Soldier' in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto in the early sixties. It's about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all."


Donovan cover

By 1965 the song had caught the attention of budding folk singer Donovan, who recorded it using a similar arrangement to Buffy Sainte-Marie's original recording. Donovan's recording was released on an EP titled The Universal Soldier in the United Kingdom (15 August 1965, Pye NEP 24219). The EP continued Donovan's run of high charting releases in the UK by reaching #5 on the charts. Tracks on the EP: "Universal Soldier"; "The Ballad of a Crystal Man" b/w "Do You Hear Me Now" (Bert Jansch); "The War Drags On" (Mick Softley)

The lack of interest in the EP format within the United States led Hickory Records to release the song as a single in September 1965 (Hickory 45-1338). Donovan's cover of "Universal Soldier" was backed with another track from the British EP, Bert Jansch's "Do You Hear Me Now?"

Donovan's USA single release of "Universal Soldier" (released 9/1965, b/w "Do You Hear Me Now?", Hickory 45-1338) also became a hit, charting higher than his previous single "Colours" and ultimately reaching #53 on the Billboard charts. This success led Hickory Records to include the song on the United States release of Donovan's second album Fairytale, replacing a cover of Bert Jansch's "Oh Deed I Do".

Other covers

The Highwaymen, Glen Campbell, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, First Aid Kit, and Chumbawamba also covered the song.

The Finnish folk singer Hector (real name Heikki Harma) recorded a cover version with lyrics in Finnish, as "Palkkasoturi" ("The Mercenary") in 1965, as his debut single.

Dutch singer/songwriter Boudewijn de Groot covered the song in Dutch, called "De eeuwige soldaat". The lyrics are translated almost literally.

Juliane Werding did a German cover "Der Ewige Soldat", and Ámmun Johnskareng a Northern Sami cover "Máilmmálaš soalddát" ("The Universal/Global Soldier").

Jan Berry of Jan and Dean recorded a version of the song with the lyrics changed to match the opposite point of view, titled "The Universal Coward" (Dean Torrence objected and did not participate). It was released as a single in 1965.

Aimee Allen performed her version[1] in 2008 at the Target Center during Campaign for Liberty's "Rally for the Republic", hosted by Ron Paul, at his request.


An article Kilroy Was Here, in the October 2004 edition of Smithsonian, failed to recognize the lyrics of the song, written on a cot from a Vietnam War era troopship. The error was caught and commented on by more than 285 readers.[2]


External links



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