Soldier

Album: Journey Through The Past (1972)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Soldier" first appeared on the soundtrack for an ill-fated Neil Young-directed film titled Journey Through The Past. An edited version of the song was released five years later on the Decade compilation album, but its story will always be tied to film for which it was originally written.

    The album features 14 tracks, with "Soldier" being the only new one written specifically for the soundtrack. The other tracks were mostly recordings of Buffalo Springfield television broadcasts, CSN&Y live shows, Harvest rehearsal outtakes, and some stuff from the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation Orchestra and Chorus.

    Unlike other risky Young experiments (such as the Tonight's The Night album), Journey Through The Past has found no real support. Not even the sheen of passing time has elevated it any higher in the minds of fans or critics.

    In speaking of the film for which "Soldier" was written, Richie Unterberger said, "Even the most rabid Young fan, however, would have to admit that this self-directed debut film is at best a flawed experiment, and at worst something of a disaster... ultimately it's an inscrutable self-indulgent failure, and one which did actually do some short-term (though not permanent) damage to Young's career, though it didn't stop him from making more strange films received with a mixture of critical bewilderment and derision in the future."
  • Understandably, Young has spoken little of "Soldier" over the years. In Shakey, however, he's quoted saying the song "was written to represent the subconscious of the Graduate [the Graduate was the name of the film's central character] guy movin' through his decision-making process about what he was gonna do with his life or the kinda person he was gonna be. That was his decision—to go either to drugs, to religion or the army."

    Young then goes into a discussion about his opposition to traditional notions of God and organized religion.
  • The song makes a controversial (for that era) statement with the lyrics:

    Jesus, I saw you walkin' on the river
    I don't believe you
    You can't deliver right away

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Marvin Gaye

Marvin GayeFact or Fiction

Did Marvin try out with the Detroit Lions? Did he fake crazy to get out of military service? And what about the cross-dressing?

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)Songwriter Interviews

Chad tells tales from his time as drummer for Nirvana, and talks about his group Before Cars.

Yacht Rock!

Yacht Rock!Song Writing

A scholarly analysis of yacht rock favorites ("Steal Away," "Baker Street"...) with a member of the leading YR cover band.

Mac Powell of Third Day

Mac Powell of Third DaySongwriter Interviews

The Third Day frontman talks about some of the classic songs he wrote with the band, and what changed for his solo country album.

Amy Grant

Amy GrantSongwriter Interviews

The top Contemporary Christian artist of all time on song inspirations and what she learned from Johnny Carson.

Sugarland

SugarlandSongwriter Interviews

Meet the "sassy basket" with the biggest voice in country music.