Glossary entry for
soldier of fortune

Van's song "Soldier of Fortune" appears in concert quite regularly, as part of a medley that usually runs something like: See Me Through / Soldier of Fortune / Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin / Burning Ground". However its only official appearance on CD is on the double live album A Night In San Francisco.

The literal reference is to a mercenary: a soldier for hire. But Van suggests (as he introduces the song during the 1998 Rockpalast Christmas Special) that it refers to someone specific:

This song was inspired by a songwriter I used to know. You've probably heard a lot of his songs on the radio, I won't mention his name, but, uh, he had a lot of hits by pop artists. This guy kind of really blew my mind one day when he told me he killed people for a living, so...

Van-L list member dcat notes that

Van has previously said many times that the song is about Bobby Scott who wrote "He Ain't Heavy" and other pop hits. If this is the same "Bobby Scott" noted on several music-related sites, here's a few bits: "born Jan 24, 1937... won the 1962 Grammy award for Best Instrumental Theme, the song, co-written with Rick Marlow, "A Taste Of Honey", recorded by The Beatles, among others... one site noted him as a "singer, pianist" on the song "Chain Gang"...his name shows up in association with Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, and Nina Simone (covering his song, "Don't Pay Them No Mind", in 1967)...he did a cover of West Side Story's "Maria" on his 1960 album "Bobby Scott Plays the Music of Leonard Bernstein" (Verve MGVS-6065)...and that's it"

Van references in:

Part of the unofficial website