♫ Turn! Turn! Turn! ♫ (Redux)

Tonight I went looking for a song I haven’t played in the last two years, and this was the first one to cross my radar!  So …

Folk singer/activist Pete Seeger wrote this one in the late 1950s, though it was not recorded until 1962 by the Limeliters, and didn’t become a hit until 1965 when The Byrds brought it out of folk circles with their electrified version.  In the interim, it was recorded by Seeger himself in 1962 on his album The Bitter And The Sweet.

According to Seeger …

“I got a letter from my publisher, and he says, ‘Pete, I can’t sell these protest songs you write.’ And I was angry. I sat down with a tape recorder and said, ‘I can’t write the kind of songs you want. You gotta go to somebody else. This is the only kind of song I know how to write.’ I pulled out this slip of paper in my pocket and improvised a melody to it in fifteen minutes. And I sent it to him. And I got a letter from him the next week that said, ‘Wonderful! Just what I’m looking for.’ Within two months he’d sold it to the Limelighters and then to the Byrds. I liked the Byrds’ record very much, incidentally. All those clanging, steel guitars – they sound like bells.”

Judy Collins also put out a version in 1963 on her album Judy Collins #3, and released it as a single in 1969.  And country/western singer Dolly Parton covered it in 1984 and again in 2005.

Ms. Collins’ version is very different from The Byrds’, and so I present both here …

Turn! Turn! Turn!
The Byrds

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

Songwriters: Peter Seeger
Turn! Turn! Turn! lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

17 thoughts on “♫ Turn! Turn! Turn! ♫ (Redux)

  1. Of course, the classic McGuinn’s Rickenbacker 360 12-string guitar combined Hillman and Crosby’s work and with those harmonies. If you were around in the 60s those will usually win you over.
    That said Judy Collins had a wonderful, moving voice, the depth of which carried the full weight of the emotion of the song she was singing, every time.
    So, we have one of those happy situations. One song which is of the quality of music and words that it can be loved in both versions.
    In addition. The Limelighters very upbeat and soaring vocal arrangement is worth a listen (one of their backing musicians on the recording was one Mr. McGuinn….1962 I think)

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  2. The Byrds win this one for me, hands down. I loved the band and this has always been a favourite. I’ve never really understood Judy Collins: a beautiful, clear voice, but she just makes every song sound the same – and dreary!

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  3. I gave you my best comment on your original post, so today I will take a different line. No matter what the Bible says, if there were a God there would never be a time for war, or a time to kill. Those things are antithetical to life, and there is no time for or purpose to either.
    But keying on the lines on embracing, this song missed a line: There is a time for action, and there is a time to refrain from action. Inaction can be must as important as action sometimes but few peple ever talk about the act of non-action. It is always a choice, and often it is the wisest choice. And that is my co ment on this song for today. Peace to all.

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    • You already know that I fully agree with you on that! When a plane falls out of the sky, killing innocent people, or a gunman kills kids in a school, or Vladimir Putin orders his troops to kill innocent women and children in Ukraine … to me, it is only further proof that there is no “higher being” in charge of things, for if there were, these things could never happen.


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