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Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) by The Byrds

Album: Turn! Turn! Turn!Released: 1965Charted:
  • This was written by Pete Seeger, an influential folk singer and activist. He recorded it before The Byrds covered it as a follow-up to their hit "Mr. Tambourine Man."
  • The lyrics were taken from a passage from the book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) in The Bible. They were rearranged and paired with Seeger's music to make the song. In a 1988 interview with Paul Zollo, Seeger explained: "I don't read the Bible that often. I leaf through it occasionally and I'm amazed by the foolishness at times and the wisdom at other times. I call it the greatest book of folklore ever given. Not that there isn't a lot of wisdom in it. You can trace the history of people poetically."

    Seeger added: "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." (this appears in Zollo's book Songwriters On Songwriting)
  • This was the second #1 hit for the Byrds; their first was "Mr. Tambourine Man."
  • Before he recorded this song with The Byrds, Jim McGuinn (who later went by Roger) played acoustic 12-string guitar on Judy Collins' 1964 version, which appears on her album Judy Collins #3. He also worked up the arrangement with Collins.
  • When The Byrds started working on this song, McGuinn and David Crosby devised a new arrangement of Seeger's original, but it took the band over 50 tries to get the sound right.
  • Dolly Parton covered this on her 1984 album of cover songs The Great Pretender, and again in 2005 on Those Were The Days. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joe - Baltimore, MD
  • Roger McGuinn teamed up with country artist Vern Gosdin, who was once a member of Chris Hillman's bluegrass band The Hillman and one half of The Gosdin Brothers (who occasionally opened for The Byrds), for a cover of this song on Gosdin's 1984 album There Is A Season. McGuinn played the same 12-string Rickenbacker that he used on The Byrds' recording of the song. In 1994 a previously unreleased version that was originally remixed in 1984 for an anticipated single was included on the The Truly Great Hits Of Vern Gosdin. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mikey - Greene County, TN
  • This played a major role in the movie Forrest Gump. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mark - Boston, MA
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Comments: 28

Very catchy and lovely song... three choruses each one followed by a verse, then an instrumental chorus/verse, then vocal chorus and verse as Jeff from Staten Island, New York, noted (on the lyrics) then the instrumental coda.Steve - Whittier, Ca
Simply put, it is one of the most gorgeous pop or rock songs of the 60's. And it was written by the kindhearted Pete Seeger, God rest his soul.Miles - Vancouver, Canada
On December 12th 1965 the Byrds performed "Turn! Turn! Turn!" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'
Two months earlier on October 17th it entered Billboard's Top 100 chart; and on November 28th it peaked at #1 (for 3 weeks) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100
It reached #26 in the U.K.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
The song features the oldest #1 lyrics. King Soloman wrote them.Wendell - Milton, Pe
On the Byrds' hit single, Gene Clark sings the main vocal. After his departure from the group in 1966, Roger McGuinn took over as vocalist.Barry - New York, Nc
My favorite version of this song was done by Mary Hopkin who recorded it on the Apple label.Janetlee - Panama City, Fl
George Harrison's Rickenbacker used in the Hard Days Night era was the driving force behind The Byrds jangly sound. It would be the inspriration of many groups most notably Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.John - Grand Island, Ny
The words to the song ( taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes , chapter 3 ) relates to the many changes in our lives ; whether they're good or bad , and help us to focus on the many changes in life itself .Mike - Franklin County, Pa
This song struck me hard through all my christian years and now my enlightened era. I just got far too many to share about that I built my entire site on and around the words " To Everything There Is A Season And A Time To Every Purpose Under Heaven?"


Note that a question mark is deliberately added to the title.
James Wong - Hong Kong, China
The addition of the lyrics "turn turn turn" to the passage from Ecclesiastes 3 is great because this expresses what King Solomon was describing up to this passage in the book. These seasons continue to come and go without fail and this was a discovery to King Solomon that was disheartening... as rich as you are and as much as you can pursue what you want, it all seems like chasing after the wind. Almost right after these words that the Byrds repeat in this song, King Solomon writes that God "made everything beautiful in its time." Life is full of ebbs and flows and that is how its supposed to be. I love King Solomon!Kenley Bell - Dallas, Tx
Great song! It had never been revealed to me, the songfact about the Biblical passage. That's very interesting.Simon - Chattanooga , Tn
Seeger wrote the refrain "turn, turn, turn" and the phrase that was the whole purpose of the song: "I swear it's not too late."

Hats off to everyone who contributed to this important work.
David - Massillon, Oh
They should have written: a season for sex and a season for work or similar. There is also a season for sabbath work and sex. Curious? Find me.Raymond - Sydney , Australia
i love this song... i have a story for every line of it... and it's on a commercial for "the wonder years" on ion television...Cj - West Haven, Ct
The lyrics were written by King Solomon and inspired by God.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Melissa - Lakeville, Mn
well, what i always get from hearing this song is prety straight forward. it leaves the message in my opinion that, there is a time and place for everything, and that you need to find what fits the situationKevin - N/a, Ca
Awesome fact about the Bible. The source for some of the best songs written, source for some not written.Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1] To every thing

There is a season

And a time to every purpose under heaven
2] A time to be born,
and a time to die;
a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which was planted;
3] A time to kill,
and a time to heal;...
4] A time to weep,
and a time to laugh;...


3]... A time to break down,
and a time to build up;
4]...A time to mourn,
and a time to dance;
5]A time to cast away stone,
and a time to gather stones together;...


8] A time to love,
and a time to hate;
a time of war,
and a time of peace.
5]... a time to embrace,
and a time to refrain from embracing;


6] A time to get,
and a time to lose;...
7] A time to rend,
and a time to sew;
8] A time to love,
and a time to hate;
A time of war,
and a time of peace.
Jeff - Staten Island, Ny
I like Mr. Tanbourine Man better, but this is a good songJohnny - Los Angeles, Ca
I love this song! And i love that it's in Forrest Gump( my fave movie)Luna - London, England
I just heard Dolly Parton cover this song at Radio City Music Hall.Sean - Brooklyn, Ny
My favorite of the Byrds, a song with a perfect harmony. I also like their covers of the Bob Dylan songs "All I realy want to do" and
"Mister Tambourine Man". The Byrds, great!
Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
australian group The Seekers also did a version...it rockedPete - Nowra, Australia
this was also on used in one of the simpson's episodesJulia - London, England
Appeared in Season 1 Episode 7 of Cold Case on CBS. The name of the episode is "A Time to Hate."Jonathan - Natchitoches, La
One of the first covers, if not the first, was by the Limeliters in the early '60s. They used a different tempo, more strident and "folk-music" style.Keith - Slc, Ut
When I heard this song many times,I inferred that this song is based on a part of the Bible. In fact, it was correct!Tiffany - Dover, Fl
the melody was written by Pete Seger, not the lyrics.Christine - Chicago, Il
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