Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)

Album: Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965)
Charted: 26 1


  • This was written by Pete Seeger, an influential folk singer and activist. He recorded a demo of the song around 1961, and included a live version on his 1962 album The Bitter And The Sweet with just voice and guitar. The Byrds brought it out of folk circles with their electrified 1965 version. Released as the follow-up to their #1 hit "Mr. Tambourine Man," it also topped the chart in the US.
  • 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)
  • A folk trio called The Limeliters released an upbeat, banjo-based version in 1962.
  • Before he recorded this song with The Byrds, Jim McGuinn (who later went by Roger) played acoustic 12-string guitar on Judy Collins' 1963 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.
  • Judy Collins' version was released as a single in 1969 when it was included on her album Recollections. It reached #69 in the US, the only Hot 100 appearance of the song besides The Byrds' rendition.
  • 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 was used in the movie Forrest Gump as Forrest says goodbye to Jenny, who is leaving for Berkeley. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mark - Boston, MA

Comments: 31

  • Robert James from 02139These lyrics were not written by Pete Seeger. They were written between the 5th and 2nd century BC by unknown author(s). These lyrics can be found almost word for word in the Book of Ecclesiastes (Chapter 3) which is part of the Old Testament, also known as the Tanakh.
  • Oto from SlovakiaDamn! Their only hits are written by somebody else! That's sad.
  • Jerryo from Allyn, Wash.Played at the ending of one of the Vietnam War episodes on PBS by the Byrds.
  • Steve from Whittier, CaVery 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.
  • Miles from Vancouver, CanadaSimply 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.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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.
  • Wendell from Milton, PeThe song features the oldest #1 lyrics. King Soloman wrote them.
  • Barry from New York, NcOn the Byrds' hit single, Gene Clark sings the main vocal. After his departure from the group in 1966, Roger McGuinn took over as vocalist.
  • Janetlee from Panama City, FlMy favorite version of this song was done by Mary Hopkin who recorded it on the Apple label.
  • John from Grand Island, NyGeorge 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.
  • Mike from Franklin County, PaThe 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 .
  • James Wong from Hong Kong, ChinaThis 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.
  • Kenley Bell from Dallas, TxThe 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!
  • Simon from Chattanooga , TnGreat song! It had never been revealed to me, the songfact about the Biblical passage. That's very interesting.
  • David from Massillon, OhSeeger 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.
  • Raymond from Sydney , AustraliaThey 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.
  • Cj from West Haven, Cti 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...
  • Melissa from Lakeville, MnThe lyrics were written by King Solomon and inspired by God.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  • Kevin from N/a, Cawell, 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 situation
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaAwesome fact about the Bible. The source for some of the best songs written, source for some not written.
  • Jeff from Staten Island, NyEcclesiastes 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.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI like Mr. Tanbourine Man better, but this is a good song
  • Luna from London, EnglandI love this song! And i love that it's in Forrest Gump( my fave movie)
  • Sean from Brooklyn, NyI just heard Dolly Parton cover this song at Radio City Music Hall.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumMy 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!
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiaaustralian group The Seekers also did a version...it rocked
  • Julia from London, Englandthis was also on used in one of the simpson's episodes
  • Jonathan from Natchitoches, LaAppeared in Season 1 Episode 7 of Cold Case on CBS. The name of the episode is "A Time to Hate."
  • Keith from Slc, UtOne 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.
  • Tiffany from Dover, FlWhen I heard this song many times,I inferred that this song is based on a part of the Bible. In fact, it was correct!
  • Christine from Chicago, Ilthe melody was written by Pete Seger, not the lyrics.
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