When was it recorded? Jul. 2, 1963
When was it first released, and on which album? Nov. 30, 1994 on “Live at the BBC”
Who wrote it? Buzz Cason & Tony Moon
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
James “Buzz” Cason and Tony Moon wrote “Soldier of Love” (or was it “Soldiers of Love” back then? My sources seem divided). I couldn’t dig up any dirt on Moon, but Cason is still alive and writing/producing music. The American singer-songwriter founded a number of bands, provided backing vocals for Elvis and Kenny Rogers, and had a #16 hit as a solo artist under the name Garry Miles. His most popular composition is the song “Everlasting Love,” which you might be familiar with.
Arthur Alexander (who I last talked about just three days ago) recorded the original “Soldier of Love” and released it as the B-side to his single “Where Have You Been (All My Life)” in 1962. Quoth Richie Unterberger, “‘Soldiers of Love’ was one of the best and most unusual songs originally recorded by Arthur Alexander, who had no shortage of good and unusual songs in his early-to-mid-1960s singles.”
According to Wikipedia, “Music critic Dave Marsh suggests that ‘Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)’ may have been lost to history had the Beatles not heard it and recorded a cover version of it. He writes that the song was mostly forgotten until a bootleg of the Beatles’ recording emerged in the late 1970s.”
Just in case it bears repeating, the Fab Four were fans of Arthur Alexander and had been performing “Soldier of Love” (and it’s A-side) live since their early days. They taped a version of it Jul. 2, 1963 for the BBC Radio show “Pop Go the Beatles” (aired Jul. 16).
Unterberger adored the Beatles version of “Soldier,” writing, “…overall it was far jauntier and exuberant than the much sadder original, as if the Beatles expected to win over the woman as a matter of course, whereas there was a sense of desperate last-hope begging in Alexander’s vocal.” A number of other critics praised the cover too. From Wikipedia:
- Robert Christgau called it one the Beatles greatest covers
- Anthony DeCurtis used John Lennon’s “crooning” on the song as an example of why Lennon was a great rock ‘n’ roll singer.
- Ian MacDonald describes it as an “ideal vehicle for Lennon”
MacDonald also claimed “Soldier” influenced the writing of three songs from the Beatles’ next album, “With the Beatles,” namely “All I’ve Got to Do” (Day 5), “It Won’t Be Long” (Day 134), and “Not a Second Time” (Day 178).
I’m not sure what I think. I liked both versions of the song a lot when I was listening to them, but ten minutes later as I’m mocking this page up, I can’t remember how the song goes. It went in one ear and out the other. Perhaps another listen will make it stick.