Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Turn! Turn! Turn!

First recorded (as “To Everything There is a Season”) by The Limeliters (1962).
Also recorded by Pete Seeger (1962), Judy Collins (1963).
Hit version by The Byrds (US #1/UK #26 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)’, often abbreviated to ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’, is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music and first recorded in 1962. The song was originally released as ‘To Everything There Is a Season’ on The Limeliters’ album Folk Matinee and later released then some months later on Seeger’s own album The Bitter and the Sweet.

“One of The Limeliter’s backing musicians at the time was Jim McGuinn (aka Roger McGuinn), who would later work with folk singer Judy Collins, rearranging the song for her 1963 album, Judy Collins 3. Collins’ recording of the song was retitled as ‘Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)’, a title that would be used intermittently by McGuinn’s later band The Byrds, when they released their cover of the song in 1965.

“The song had been arranged for Collins by McGuinn in a chamber-folk style during the sessions for Collins’. The idea of reviving the song came to McGuinn during The Byrds’ July 1965 tour of the American Midwest, when his future wife, Dolores, requested the tune on the Byrds’ tour bus. The rendering that McGuinn dutifully played came out sounding not like a folk song but more like a rock/folk hybrid, perfectly in keeping with The Byrds’ current status as pioneers of the folk rock genre.

“Recorded by The Byrds over a 5-day period in September 1965, the master recording of ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ reputedly took 78 takes to complete. Its release as a single helped solidify Folk Rock as a chart trend and, like the band’s previous hits, continued The Byrds’ successful mix of vocal harmony and jangly 12-string Rickenbacker guitar playing.

“Pete Seeger expressed his approval of the Byrd’s rendering of the song. The Byrds’ single is the most successful recorded version of the song, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #26 on the UK Singles Chart in 1965. The Byrds’ version also distinguishes the song as the #1 pop hit with the oldest lyrics, dating back to the Book of Ecclesiastes and King Solomon.”

Pete Seeger, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)” (1962):

Judy Collins, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)” (1964):

The Byrds, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (1965):

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