Pete Seeger: If somebody hears a song and they think they can put different words to it, add a verse, change it a little. I've done this with many a song. The song "Where Have all the Flowers Gone" I came across in reading a Russian novel in translation, and it describes the Cossacks galloping off to join the Czar's army. And three lines were written: "Where are the flowers? The girls have plucked them. Where are the girls? They're all married. Where are the men? They're all in the army." And I added a few lines of my own and had a song. Years later I found a Yiddish song with the same general plot. It could be a thousand years old, the analogy of flowers with girls and then men going to war.
In this excerpt from the podcast, Seeger explains the inspiration behind one of his most famous songs, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" [2:03]