♫ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? ♫

This song suits my mood tonight.  I think perhaps it suits the state of our nation tonight.  I have played this before, at least twice, and a total coincidence, but the last time I played it was on this exact date last year, following a mass shooting in Virginia Beach.  Tonight, it isn’t a mass shooting, but it is a nation on fire that has my angst meter running at high speed.  It makes that one line, “When will we ever learn?” all the more meaningful.  I think, perhaps, the answer to that question is “Never”


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

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

    • This is one of about 5 songs that come back into my head frequently these days. The trigger for this one is usually after some new abomination when I find myself saying, “When will we ever learn?” and then the song becomes stuck in my head. Lennon’s “Imagine” is another, as is Stevie Wonder/Paul McCartney’s “Ebony and Ivory”.

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  1. The Peter, Paul and Mary song that has been in my heart and mind all day is “Light One Candle” from the 1986 album “No Easy Walk to Freedom”. That song along with “Blowin’ in the Wind” from the 1963 “In the Wind” album and your choice from their first May 1962 album “Peter, Paul and Mary” are all relevant to the present every bit as much as when they were released. And though each song is undeniably beautiful, it is sad that they cannot be enjoyed simply for their beauty but are now being played because they are once again meaningful to our times. Thank-you!

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    • I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that one … I will check it out tomorrow … er, rather, later today after a bit of sleep. I do love “Blowin’ in the Wind”, though. Yes, it is sad that the messages of those songs is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago, and will likely still be relevant in another 50 years. Sigh.

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  2. Like Rawgod you know I had this one on my mind yesterday.I wonder if we could arrange a swap,with Oz . They send all their meek and mild peaceniks here and we;ll send out racist scum there. If they don’t kiill each other, they’ll have a country just happy to do it for them.
    Cwtch

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  3. Funny. I was singing this song yesterday. The more riot videos I saw on the news, the more helpless I felt. No matter how much things change, the more they stay the same. We can talk progress and peace, we can play with them, but ultimately, it comes back to needless deaths.
    I hope Trump shit his panties as he was rushed to the bunker yesterday. What was he afraid of, that one of the protesters was hiding a rocket launcher under their clothes? We should have been so lucky.
    Seems like humans cannot live without racism, greed, and war. When will we ever learn? When Jill said, NEVER!

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