Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season) – The Byrds | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 3 weeks); 1965

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Prior to joining up with the other Byrds, Jim (Roger) McGuinn had worked with folk singer Judy Collins, for whom he arranged and played guitar on her 1964 #3 album, which included Turn! Turn! Turn!. That same year McGuinn and the other Byrds-to-be were thunderstruck by the BeatlesA Hard Day’s Night, especially the title tune with its ringing guitar sound. McGuinn immediately bought his own electric Rickenbacker 12 string. By Thanksgiving, the band had changed its name from the Jet Set to the Byrds, and on June 26th, 1965 Mr. Tambourine Man became the #1 record in America. After All I Really Want To Do was outcharted by Cher’s version, McGuinn reached back to Turn! Turn! Turn!, a Pete Seeger composition based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. In the middle of a 1965 mid-west tour, Jim began banging out a rock rendition of the Biblical song. The band refined the arrangement through 50 takes in the studio; resulting in a folk-rock classic that topped the chart in December.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Terry Melcher

Lyrics Written by:

  • Pete Seeger