Like a good number of people, the only version of the song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" that I really knew of, is the Roberta Flack version. It's beautiful and romantic and... well, I didn't give it a whole lot of thought.
Until I did.
Tonight someone mentioned that song and it got stuck in my head. On whim, I was going to look it up online and listen to the whole thing as it's been a few years since I've listened to it.
I did a general search on Duck Duck Go and saw a return of a recording of the song done by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. Hmmm. That piqued my curiosity because it listed the song as from 1957. Again, having only heard/known the Roberta Flack version, I clicked on the link, which was not a youtube site, but a personal site the person had embedded the video in. I hit PLAY and started to listen.
And wow... a bit screechy and not at ALL like Roberta Flack's version... I thought I had clicked on the wrong song.
So I clicked away and went back to my original search. This time I read the history of the song and bingo! The version I was listening to was the original.
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is a 1957 folk song written by political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, who later become his wife, but at the time, he was married to someone else.
The song was later released by Peter, Paul and Mary (1965?) and then recorded by Roberta Flack (1972?)
Roberta's version being almost a completely different song! Much slower, in a lower voice and just much more romantic and full of emotion than the original version.
I decided to look up numerous versions on YouTube and found this listing on one of them, with a long list of numerous artists that covered the song.
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" has been covered by numerous artists such as Joe and Eddie, Elvis Presley, George Michael, Marianne Faithfull, Kate Havnevik, the Kingston Trio, Harry Belafonte, June Tabor, the Chad Mitchell Trio-Mike Kobluk solo, Gordon Lightfoot, Vern Gosdin, Shirley Bassey, Steven Houghton, Bert Jansch, Maria Taylor, The Easy Club, Peter, Paul and Mary, We Five, Johnny Cash, The Chi-Lites, José Carreras, Michael Sweet, Jeffrey Gaines, Isaac Hayes, Nana Mouskouri, Bradley Joseph, Joanna Law, Richard Marx, Alison Moyet, Stereophonics & Jools Holland, Mel Tormé, Vanessa L. Williams, Mathilde Santing, Cindytalk, Amanda Palmer, Conner Reeves, Christy Moore, Vikki Carr, Brian Kennedy, David Cook, Journey South, Bobby Vinton, Kate Ceberano, Lauryn Hill, Leona Lewis, Gregorian, Wayne Newton, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Temptations, The Smothers Brothers, Johnny Mathis, Paul Potts, Jeffrey Osborne, Andy Williams, Bob Monkhouse, Petula Clark, Harry Connick, Jr., Aaron Neville, Marcia Griffiths (member of the I-Threes), Emily Barker and Matt Cardle." - Youtube
Here is the original folk song version written by Ewan MacColl, before anyone else ever put their own spin on it.
Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger
- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Gordon still had the 'folksy' sound to his cover of it. Still close to the original but with his smooth voice and way of singing it, which does make it sound very different from Peggy Seeger's version.
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
I really liked this version. A tribute to Ewan, 25 years after he passed. Christy Moore and his 'lilt' gives it a beautiful rendition (I think).
'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'
Festival Theatre Edinburgh, 11 April 2014
And one of my favorite versions... Johnny Cash.
The first time ever I saw your face
I heard some really atrocious versions when I was perusing YouTube listening to various artists covering the song. I'm not going to name names, because you know, your own personal taste and all that. But if you decide to spend a portion of tonight listening to covers of this song as well, be prepared for some that will make you click away... really fast!
Rambling about music... it's just the coffee talking again.