Where Have All The Flowers Gone? A Universal Song

My wife is currently reading a book called “Gone To Soldiers” by Marge Piercy, and I found myself gazing at the cover yesterday and wondered why it sounded so familiar to me.

And then it dawned on me why…  it was because of the “folk” song by Pete Seeger that was so popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s of the last century, “Where have all the flowers gone”.

So I sat there, racking my brain trying to remember whose version of it I had loved all those years ago,   Was it the version by Joan Baez?  Or the Peter, Paul and Mary version?   Or whose?

Simply couldn’t remember, so off I shot to my favourite music reference library, Youtube, and was astounded to see how many people from so many countries had recorded this song.  I then went to Wikipedia to see what it had to say about the song.  And it confirmed what I had seen on Youtube, this is a truly international song, as you will see on the list of recordings of this song I shall put lower down in this post.

But first, lets hear the original version by the guy who wrote it, and go from there.

Apparently the words were actually from an Ukrainian Cossack song called  “Koloda-Duda”, which had the phrase “Where are the flowers, the girls have plucked them. Where are the girls, they’ve all taken husbands. Where are the men, they’re all in the army.”

Here is a rather touching version of that song…..  Though you would probably do best to only watch the first part of this video, as it goes on at some length in Russian and Japanese….  Unless of course you happen to speak one of those languages.

Anyhow, this song became a more or less instant success, and has gone on since its inception in 1955 to become probably the most famous protest song ever…

However, as I said above, this song has now been sung in just about all the more or less mainstream languages, ranging from English, through German,Danish, Dutch, Japanese, Basque, Catalan, Estonian, Hebrew and loads more….    So I thought it might be fun to have a listen to this famous and significant song in some of those versions, so to kick things off, here it is in Hebrew.

I have no idea what these good folk are actually doing, but nonetheless, our song is what they are doing it to.

And now, we have it in Basque….

I know, it sounds as if it is a totally different song, but be patient, and you will see the original peeping through…..

And now we have it in Dutch for your pleasure….   I hope!

A very peaceful and beautiful version I think you will agree…   And it works well in Dutch I found too.  Connie Vandenbos is one of the Netherlands best and most loved singers, so it is appropriate that she has made such an engaging version of this song.

And now we have Estonian, A version that moved me, even though I don’t speak a word of Estonian..   Odd version I felt.   Anyhow, here it is for you to enjoy I hope.

The huge crowd obviously were moved by this version, no doubt about that!!

And now we have one of the odder versions, this one is in Japanese, not a country I would associate with this song, but obviously I am wrong in that assumption… so here it is……..

A very satisfying version I felt…  And I like the images they chose for the video, simple and to the point, if anything rather more hopeful than the song itself.

And now a version by an Hungarian Singer called Kovács Erzsi that returns to the roots of this song, i.e a solo singer with an acoustic guitar, well at least for most of the recording.  It does have a bit of “swelling strings” as well, but still peaceful and pleasing.

And now for what has to be my favourite version of this song,  Occasionally out of tune,, mispronounced words, and other technical problems, but still the most passionate version I have ever heard in which she (Marlene Dietrich) shows consummate skill in building up to the passionate crux of the song, and then descending to a calm and quietly reflective end….  A true actress who knew exactly how to put such a song over…

Enjoy it please.

Nothing further to be said after that I hope you will agree………………

And now, as promised, here is that list from Wikipedia of the different versions of this song… Probably far from exhaustive,but it gives a fair indication of the spread and popularity of this song all around the world.

Version Title Artist
Basque Loreak non dira? Lou Topet, Harkaitz Cano
Catalan Què se n’ha fet d’aquelles flors? Roslyn Smith, La Marta (Club Super3)
Croatian Kamo je cvijeće otišlo? Monia Verardi
Czech Řekni, kde ty kytky jsou Judita Čeřovská
Danish Where Have All the Flowers Gone Savage Rose
Dutch Zeg me waar de bloemen zijn Jaap Fischer
English Where have all the flowers gone? Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Tansads The Armistice Pals
Esperanto Ĉiuj floroj estas for Duo Espera
Estonian Kuhu küll kõik lilled jäid on YouTube Lindpriid
Finnish Minne kukat kadonneet Kukonpojat
French Qui peut dire où vont les fleurs? Eva[disambiguation needed], Marlene Dietrich, Dalida
German Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind Marlene Dietrich, Hannes Wader, Juliane Werding, Nana Mouskouri, Joan Baez, Lolita (Austrian singer), Hildegard Knef, Einstürzende Neubauten
Hebrew איפה הפרחים כולם Eifo Haprachim Kulam שלישיית גשר הירקון (Gesher Hayarkon Trio)
Hungarian Hova tűnt a sok virág? on YouTube Gerendás Péter
Irish Cá bhfuil siad uainn, scoth na mbláth? Feargal Ó Béarra
Italian Dove andranno i nostri fiori? on YouTube Patty Pravo
Japanese 花はどこへ行った? Hana wa doko e itta?on YouTube Kiyoshiro Imawano
Polish Gdzie są kwiaty z tamtych lat? Sława Przybylska
Portuguese Para onde foram todas as flores Jarmila Ferreira Martins
Romanian Unde au dispărut toate florile Alexandru Constantinescu
Russian Где цветы, дай мне ответ? Gde cvety, day mne otvet? Oleg Nesterov, Masha Makarova
Russian Ты скажи мне, где цветы on YouTube Zhanna Bichevskaya
Slovenian Kam so šle vse rožice on YouTube Tomaž Domicelj
Spanish ¿Dónde están las flores? Rolando Alarcón
Swedish Inga blommor finns det mer Lars Lönndahl
Turkish Söyle Çiçekler nerde? Oğuz Tarihmen
Ukrainian Де всі квіти, розкажи De vsi kvity, rozkazhy Maria Burmaka
Ukrainian Квіти де? Kvity De? on YouTube Yana Zavarzina

 

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