Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

by

The Kingston Trio



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Pete Seeger wrote this song as a call for peace. He was inspired by Mikhail Sholokhov's novel And Quiet Flows the Don, which is about Czarist Russia. In a 1988 interview with Paul Zollo, Seeger explained: "In one of the early chapters, it describes the Cossack soldiers galloping off to join the Czar's army. And they're singing: 'Where are the flowers? The girls have plucked them. Where are the girls? They've all taken husbands. Where are the men? They're all in the army. Gallop, gallop, gallop, wheeeee!' I stuck the words in my pocket. A year or two or three went by and I never had time to look up the original. Meanwhile, I'm sitting in a plane, kind of dozing. And all of a sudden came a line I had thought about five years earlier: 'long time passing.' I thought that those three words sang well. All of a sudden I fitted the two together, along with the intellectual's perennial complaining, 'When will we ever learn?'" (this appears in Zollo's book Songwriters On Songwriting)
Seeger's lyrics show how war and suffering can by cyclical in nature: girls pick flowers, men pick girls, men go to war and fill graves with their dead which get covered with flowers. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The folk group Peter, Paul And Mary began playing this, and when The Kinston Trio saw them perform it in concert, they recorded it the next day.
Movie star Marlene Dietrich recorded a German version. In 1965, Johnny Rivers hit #26 with his cover.
Peter, Paul And Mary re-recorded this in 1997 for a public service announcement featuring guns, grieving families, deceased kids, and white coffins. It was renamed "Where Have All The Children Gone," and this ad of the same name was from the US Department of Justice, the National Crime Prevention Council, and the Ad Council. (thanks, Tiffany - Dover, FL)
The Kingston Trio
More The Kingston Trio songs
More songs inspired by books
More protest songs
More songs that were also recorded in other languages
More songs about war
More songs about nature
More songs for singing around a campfire

Comments (10):

On February 5th 1967, the Kingston Trio performed "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" on the NBC-TV program 'The Andy Williams Show'...
As already stated above Johnny Rivers reached #26 with it in 1965, that was on November 7th for 1 week and it spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
On the same 'Williams' show the trio sang Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" (on the Top 100 Peter, Paul & Mary reached #91 with it in 1965 and on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart, in 1966 George Hamilton IV took his version to #9).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
On January 14th 1962, "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" by the Kingston Trio entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on April 1st it peaked at #21 (for 1 week) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
Between 1958 and 1963 the trio had seventeen Top 100 records; with "Tom Dooley" being their biggest hit, it reached #1 (for 1 week) in 1958...
R.I.P. Dave Guard (1934 - 1991), Nick Reynolds (1933 - 2008), and Bob Shane, born Robert Castle Schoen, will celebrate his 80th birthday in seventeen days on February 1st (2014).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
A poignant, powerful voice for peace. Though strictly it speaks of the formal kind of war of nations and armies, Seeger's point is clearly beyond that, to the personal warfare within us all. In performance Seeger has freely varied from "they every learn" to both "we" and "you." I believe the canonical lyrics are "they" throughout.

Though strong enough on its face, the real strength lies in the verses made continuous by linking each to the next, and then, most particularly, the connection from the final verse as you'll hear, making the point that it's not just the tragedy of anger and warfare, but the frustrating endlessness of it, the same folly repeated from one generation to the next, with the singer's voice crying, throughout, when will they ever learn? When will we?
- Ray Simard, Lakeside, CA
vhtgvuttghkfjpoopyfuidlg
it is a nice song it is cool
fhdsiaghijhicody
- bobby, salem, NJ
it is a good song njdshaJKCHBDKPOOPYBDYCSGCYDUGYDGHSJ DHSAIGYUAGCHHICODY
- bobby, salem, NJ
hmmm i like chocolate it is good. it is a good song. i think it is sad
- bobby, salem, NJ
The song presented and discussed here is missing the writer credit for Joe Hickerson, the creator of verses 4 and 5 when he was a camp counselor and the person who repeated the first verse at the end to bring out the circularity of the events.
- David, Chicago, IL
A good enough cover I guess, but Pete Seeger's version is so much more powerful. The KT also changed the last line (or someone did) from "when will we ever learn" to "when will they ever learn" which really decreases the impact.
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
I love how every stanza is connected the one preceding--to me it's saying how everything is connected (that might just be a small part of the actual song, but it's still cool)
- Ryan, Poway, CA
I heard that Peter, Paul, and Mary sing this in a 1997 Ad Council ad (with the NCPC, of course) and the song was dubbed as Where Have All the Children Gone.
- Tiffany, Dover, FL
You have to to post comments.
Harry ShearerHarry Shearer
Harry is Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, Mark Shubb in The Folksmen, and Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.
Tonio KTonio K
This mysterious and wildly eclectic singer/songwriter talks about some of his most memorable songs and collaborations.
Artis the SpoonmanArtis the Spoonman
Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?
Boz ScaggsBoz Scaggs
The "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" singer makes a habit of playing with the best in the business.