The Byrds’ ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ Is Based on 1 Passage From the Bible

TL;DR:

  • The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was based on a part of the Old Testament of the Bible.
  • The song was written by a folk singer who was not a member of The Byrds.
  • “Turn! Turn! Turn!” became a massive hit in the United States.
The Byrds playing instruments during the "Turn! Turn! Turn!" era
The Byrds | Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer

One of the most famous classic rock songs of the 1960s is The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!” A star who was not a member of The Byrds read a passage from the Bible and subsequently wrote the song. The star in question explained what he thought of the Bible.

Why Pete Seeger wrote The Byrds’ ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’

The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was the most popular version of the song. However, Pete Seeger wrote the song and recorded the original version of it. During a 2006 interview with Beliefnet, Seeger was asked if he had a favorite song. “At one time I have a favorite song, the one I’m singing. But I find myself as an old man singing ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ more than I ever did because it does have so many meanings for me.”

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” is based on the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Seeger explained why he based the track on that passage. “I was leafing through it when I came on that poem,” he recalled. “I just leafed through it by chance. Maybe God led me to it. Who knows?”

RELATED: How a Famous Mystic Inspired Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’

Why Pete Seeger used to read the Bible often

Seeger discussed his feelings about the Bible. “I leaf through it quite often — if only to shake my head in disgust,” Seeger revealed. “I quote Leviticus to people who think that every word in the Bible is absolutely gospel and you need to obey every word.”

Seeger disapproved of a specific law from the Book of Leviticus. “In Leviticus, it says you must kill a bull if you’re going to really love God,” he noted. “And you must kill it in a certain way, or else you will be killed.” Seeger said he believed in God — and that he believed God is everything.

RELATED: John Lennon Said a Beatles Song Was a Gift From the ‘God of Marijuana’

How The Byrds’ ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ and its parent album performed on the charts in the United States

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” became The Byrds’ biggest hit in the United States. It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. The song remained on the chart for 14 weeks. None of The Byrds’ other songs lasted as long on the chart.

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” appeared on the album of the same title. The album hit No. 17 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 40 weeks. None of the band’s other albums lasted as long on the chart.

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” was a huge hit and it has an interesting biblical origin.

RELATED: John Lennon Revealed ‘Imagine’ Wasn’t Actually an Attack on Religion