"Where Have All the Flowers Gone" was, on its face, an improbable hit for the Kingston Trio, authored by Pete Seeger, a folksinger and composer of didactic, confrontational, politically oriented topical songs of the kind that the Kingston Trio usually avoided. And, indeed, it was a more overtly political song and a more serious topical song than the group was known for. And the fact that it was a hit for the group helped set in motion events that neither the group nor its author could have foreseen in 1961. In late 1961, the group was just looking for a hit. It seemed as though the Kingston Trio's fortunes were declining -- the polished harmony-based folk-style songs that had garnered them millions of sales in their first three years weren't making the charts as singles anymore, and the departure of co-founder Dave Guard in mid-1961 (and his replacement by a still untested John Stewart) had left their future uncertain; and while their concerts were still well attended and their LPs still sold well enough to make the Top Ten, they needed something new in the way of a song to put them back before a public wider than the collegiate audience that they already owned. In October of 1961, soon after finishing their album Close-Up, the trio appeared in Boston on the same stage as a new folk ensemble, Peter, Paul and Mary, whose set included a new Pete Seeger song called "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." Seeger had been inspired to write the song by a passage out of Mikhail Sholokhov's novel And Quiet Flows the Don, and it reflected the antiwar spirit that infused the left during those years; Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary were kindred spirits politically, but it was the Kingston Trio who jumped on the song when they heard it performed by their slightly younger rivals -- they headed back to New York the next day and cut "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" in a single six-hour session. Released by Capitol in December, it peaked at number 21 two months later, in February of 1962, propelling the group to a new wave of popularity and establishing some minimal politically correct credibility for them within the burgeoning folk/protest community. (Ironically, the song may have been an even bigger hit in Germany, sung in German, by Marlene Dietrich, where its antiwar sentiments seemed to tap into a vein of bitter regret over World War II and the subsequent Cold War that had gone largely unexpressed by the German people). In later years, some historians would omit the Kingston Trio from mention in accounts of Seeger's career and songwriting in the early '60s, favoring the more politically focused Peter, Paul and Mary, but it was the Kingston Trio's hit that made Seeger a very bankable songwriter at a time when he was politically suspect, and it undoubtedly helped force the issue of the broadcast blacklist to the forefront. Had that song not been a hit in the trio's hands, it's unlikely there would have been the pressure that developed to allow Seeger to sing his own work on programs like ABC's Hootenanny, thus revealing to the public the ban that he faced, and bringing into focus some of the most fiercely fought ideological and political battles of the period.