♫ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? ♫

This song suits my mood tonight.  I think perhaps it suits the state of our nation tonight.

Pete-Seeger-1

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) 

Pete Seeger, who died in January 2014 at the age of 94, wrote this song, and the following is his story of how the song came to be:

“I had been reading a long novel—”And Quiet Flows the Don”—about the Don River in Russia and the Cossacks who lived along it in the 19th century. It describes the Cossack soldiers galloping off to join the Czar’s army, singing as they go. Three lines from a song are quoted in the book: ‘Where are the flowers? The girls plucked them / Where are the girls? They’re all married / Where are the men? They’re all in the army.’ I never got around to looking up the song, but I wrote down those three lines.

“Later, in an airplane, I was dozing, and it occurred to me that the line ‘long time passing’—which I had also written in a notebook—would sing well. Then I thought, ‘When will we ever learn.’ Suddenly, within 20 minutes, I had a song. There were just three verses. I Scotch-taped the song to a microphone and sang it at Oberlin College. This was in 1955.

“One of the students there had a summer job as a camp counselor. He took the song to the camp and sang it to the kids. It was very short. He gave it rhythm, which I hadn’t done. The kids played around with it, singing ‘Where have all the counselors gone? / Open curfew, everyone.’

“The counselor added two actual verses: ‘Where have all the soldiers gone? / Gone to graveyards every one / Where have all the graveyards gone? / Covered with flowers every one.’ Joe Hickerson is his name, and I give him 20 percent of the royalties. That song still brings in thousands of dollars from all around the world.”

bernie sandersThe song has been recorded by many, including Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, Olivia Newton-John and even Dolly Parton, but the one that surprised me was Bernie Sanders!  Yep, the one and only Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont apparently produced an album in 1987, 20 years before becoming a senator, titled We Shall Overcome.  Who knew?

My favourite version of the song has always been Peter, Paul & Mary’s, but tonight I came across a version Seeger did sometime late in life, playing banjo and singing, and I found it moving.  So, I am including both here, and you can pick one or listen to both.  Or neither, I suppose, but then my feelings would be hurt, so listen to at least one, ‘k?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone
Pete Seeger/Peter, Paul & Mary

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Songwriters: Peter Seeger
Where Have All the Flowers Gone lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

20 thoughts on “♫ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? ♫

  1. I din’t know about Pete Seeger when I was a kid & my mom played it for me. I love the Peter, Paul & Mary version & it reminds me that it’s because of my mother that I continue to work for PEACE even in the midst of a warmongering country!
    I miss you, Mom … 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on sherriemiranda1 and commented:
    I sing this song when I exercise on my elliptical! It’s a reminder to never stop working for PEACE! I change “young girls” to “Women” because as Maya Angelou says “When we know better, we do better.” ENJOY THE SONG!
    Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:
    http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pete Seeger’s name takes me back to the first decade of my life and not because of his songs. My Father played one instrument, the 5-string banjo. He loved to play that thing and he was good! One of his aspirations was to pass this down to his children and goodness knows he tried. My eldest sister and I were his first hope and try though he did, we were not getting the hang of it. Enter…Pete Seeger’s book and his new vocal instructional LP “How To Play the 5-String Banjo”! I wish that I could say that this miraculously made banjo players out of us…it didn’t. To my Father’s credit, he did not give up, he kept trying with each of the younger progeny. That book and LP were used along with his hands on teaching each and every time. My youngest brother, an early musical genius, had taught himself to play the piano at 5 years of age. By the age of 7, he was playing the banjo, without my Father’s or Pete Seeger’s assistance! Hearing Pete Seeger’s banjo on this song evokes many warm memories. I have always been a devoted Peter, Paul & Mary fan and I love their version. I played this on my acoustic guitar and sang along, to no acclaim. But Pete Seeger’s banjo and voice are unbeatable! Thank-you!

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  4. I couldn’t open the PPM version, but that is okay. What I love about the Seeger version are the crowd shots. There is so much respect shown to him. I don’t know how well or if he could see the audience (having been on stage with the spotlights shining down I could not see the audience at all), but I hope he could. It would have done his heart something awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

      • One would think so. I saw him at the Winnipeg Folk Festival a few times, he was always given the final spot in the show. His closing song was always “Good Night Irene” and if he was not there, all the entertainers who were would come on stage and close the festival with his song. I moved away from Winnipeg a long time ago, but I’m betting the festival still closes that way. It was a tradition, one that everyone loved.

        Liked by 1 person

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