Notes by Jayādvaita Swami
In 1959 the American folk singer Pete Seeger put to music this passage, the so-called “catalog of times.” He moved the words around a bit, added one line of his own (“A time of peace / I swear it’s not too late”), and added the refrain “Turn! Turn! Turn!” He sang the song around, as he put it, and the song made its way through the folk-music scene. In 1962 it appeared on his album The Bitter and the Sweet.
“Turn! Turn! Turn!” became a favorite for Judy Collins. Early in her career, in 1963, the song appeared on her album Judy Collins #3. The video here was recorded in 1966.
Working as a studio musician in New York City in 1963, Jim (later Roger) McGuinn wound up playing backup for Judy Collins and arranged the song for her. Later, when he co-founded the folk rock group the Byrds, he brought the song with him. For three weeks in the winter of 1965 the Byrds’ recording of “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was the number-one song in America.