Song Lyric Sunday — Flowers

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday theme words this week — blossoms, cherry, and flowers — are intended, I suppose, to honor of the arrival of spring and the fact that today is Easter Sunday. I was going to go with Neil Diamond’s “Cherry Cherry,” but I already used that song in this Song Lyric Sunday post from this past December. Then I was going to go with Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco,” which has the lines “If you’re going to San Francisco/Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” But I had already used that last April for another one of my Song Lyric Sunday posts. So I looked through all of my Song Lyric Sunday posts and realized I had never used Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.”

“Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” was a modern folk-style song. The melody and the first three verses were written by Pete Seeger in 1955. Additional verses were added in May 1960 by Joe Hickerson, who turned it into a song with a circular reference, starting and ending with flowers. Seeger and the song were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002 in the Folk category. And in 2010, the New Statesman listed it as one of the “Top 20 Political Songs.”

Seeger wrote this song as a call for peace. The song’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. He said he was inspired by Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quiet Flows the Don,” which is about Czarist Russia. In a 1988 interview, 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. I fitted the two together, along with the intellectual’s perennial complaining, ‘When will we ever learn?'”

The folk group Peter, Paul & Mary began playing this at their live concerts, and when The Kingston Trio saw them perform it in concert, they recorded it the next day. Interestingly, believing it to be a traditional song, the trio claimed authorship, although upon notice from Seeger they had their name removed and credited Seeger and Hickerson.

Here is The Kingston Trio’s version

And here is Peter, Paul & Mary’s version.

Here are the lyrics to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Gone to young girls, every one!
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone to young men, every one!
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone to soldiers, every one!
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

And where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, a long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, every one!
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

And where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, every one!
When will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?

16 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Flowers

  1. Janis April 4, 2021 / 3:27 am

    Thanks for sharing this song! This is one of our Peter, Paul and Mary favorites @ home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lizblackx April 4, 2021 / 4:20 am

    Yes, that’s the cycle of life, and of the universe.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newepicauthor April 4, 2021 / 6:32 am

    Nice choice Fandango. I just wrote about this song in January for Thursday Inspiration. Pete was dozing off in an airplane, and he remembered the line “long time passing” which he had written in a notebook 4 years earlier and then he thought, “When will we ever learn” and he had his song within 20 minutes. I know what you mean about deciding which song to choose as next week for Songs with One Word Titles, I figured that I would use the Carly Simon song Anticipation, but when I started researching it, I realized that I had already used this song. I guess we are either unorganized or we write too many posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Maggie April 4, 2021 / 7:17 am

    What a great selection for today. Such a powerful song. A song of reflection with a hint of hope. If only we would heed the warning.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lou Carreras April 4, 2021 / 1:36 pm

    Thanks for the flash back. By around 1967 most of my friends had non-publishable satiric versions of this that we’d sing late at night. Of course songs like ‘Hey Mister Tamborine man” and many others also got lampooned. It’s amazing what an idle mind and a guitar can do at 2 AM.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Marleen April 4, 2021 / 6:23 pm

    I like your selection of song, Fandango. May we have a wakeful spring.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. leigha66 April 7, 2021 / 1:09 pm

    I love this song and it is great to have all of the versions here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. aisasami April 11, 2021 / 7:47 am

    Beautiful! Thanks for the wonderful pick!

    Liked by 1 person

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