Song: “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)” by the Byrds
Reached #1: December 4, 1965 (their second, 3 weeks)
Previously: Day 178
With a writing credit of “Book of Ecclesiastes & Pete Seeger”, I guess “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was destined to be a hit.
Seeger edited the song – can’t really say he wrote it, as the lyrics are all taken from English translations of Ecclesiastes – in 1959, but didn’t release his version until 1962. A few years later, the Byrds did this version, and took it to (its rightful place at?) #1.
Seeger’s actual writing contribution? “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late”. There’s been a lot of writing royalties for those few words… but to Seeger’s credit, he gives the “Book of Ecclesiastes” share to a charity in Israel that’s trying to find a road to peace there.
Of course, these would be the oldest lyrics to reach #1 – if Ecclesiastes was indeed written by the historical King Solomon, the lyrics would have been written sometime around 980 BCE. Until someone starts singing caveman drawings, this is a record not likely to be beaten…
And how did the Byrds find the song? Roger McGuinn first did it with The Limeliters, then arranged it for Judy Collins, before bringing the song with him to the Byrds, who used it as the title track of their second album.
Tomorrow, a rapper and a Canadian force of nature combine to hit #1.
Other songs that reached #1 on December 4:
1971 – “Family Affair” by Sly & The Family Stone (their third, 3 weeks)
2010 – “Only Girl (In The World)” by Rihanna (their seventh, 1 week)