The Poppy Family were the Canadian duo of Terry and Susan Jacks, who were husband and wife at the time. Terry Jacks, who four years later would release the ubiquitous "Seasons in the Sun
," wrote the song whilst Susan sang lead.
Terry was a big Buddy Holly fan, and started writing the song in his pre-Poppy days with the working title "Which Way You Goin' Buddy?" He had the melody, but couldn't come up with a lyrical theme. A few years later, after he formed The Poppy Family, he hit on the idea. In our interview with Terry Jacks
, he explained: "It was in 1969 and I had been reading about all these guys going to Vietnam and leaving their women behind in Seattle, and I knew somebody down there that was doing that. I thought, 'Wow, that must be awful.' These guys go and their wives or girlfriends wouldn't know whether they were coming back. That's quite a deal, going to war over there, and it was such a stupid war. So I said, 'That's what I'm going to write about: this woman that's left behind. Which way you going, Billy? Can I go, too?'"