Friday, December 4, 2015

Today in Music (1965): The Byrds “Turn! Turn! Turn!” hit #1

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

The Byrds

Writer(s): Pete Seeger (see lyrics here)

Released: October 1, 1965

First Charted: October 22, 1965

Peak: 13 US, 11 CB, 11 GR, 12 HR, 1 CL, 26 UK, 3 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 38.47 video, 143.16 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Byrds emerged in 1965 as the poster children for folk rock with their #1 rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” By year’s end, they’d churned out another chart-topping cover originally written by another folk legend – Pete Seeger. His song, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” boasts “being the number one single with the most ancient lyrics” FB as he adapted the words from the Bible’s Book of Ecclesiastes in 1959. His only original contributions were the title of the song and the last line, “A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” RC He said the melody came together in roughly fifteen minutes. SG

It was first released in 1962 as “To Everything There Is a Season” by the Limeliters. A year later, Judy Collins recorded an arrangement of the song by Roger McGuinn. The future Byrds’ frontman also played guitar on the song. Once he was in the Byrds, he started playing the song while on a tour bus. David Crosby added his twist and the group came up with a new arrangement for the song. FB McGuinn said it took them more than 50 takes to get the song right. RC

They ended up recording the song “in that chiming, droning, vaguely Beatlesque way that had become the Byrds’ signature sound.” SG As McGuinn said, “I changed the chord structure…and we changed the beat…We put a kick, that Phil Spector beat…to it.” SS The group figured out how “to interweave those guitar jangles” SG with their three-way harmonies into a “straight-up smash during that very early psychedelic era.” SG

The Byrds released their version just as “the Vietnam War was just startint to rip open the United States’ generation gap,” SG was embraced by kids as a “pro-peace anthem.” SG However, it was difficult to view a song which quoted the Bible as countercultural so it had appeal to older generations as well. SG


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First posted 7/13/2023; last updated 4/25/2024.

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