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First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

by

Roberta Flack



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was the breakout hit for Roberta Flack; it was #1 in the US for 6 weeks. Flack had released 2 solo albums without commercial success, as her blend of Jazz and Folk styles struggled to find an audience. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Folk singer Ewan MacColl wrote this in 1957 for his wife, Peggy Seeger. She was in a play and phoned him for suggestions on a song for a romantic scene. MacColl wrote this on the spot in less than an hour, playing it over the phone for his wife to use in her play.
This was used in the 1972 Clint Eastwood movie Play Misty For Me. It gave a great deal of exposure to the mostly unknown Flack.
This won the Grammy in 1973 for Song Of The Year.
Many artists have covered this, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Mel Torme, Isaac Hayes, and Gordon Lightfoot.
The title is the first words of the lyrics, but that is the only place those words appear.
Leona Lewis covered this on her 2007 debut album Spirit. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Roberta Flack
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Comments (18):

I was told years ago that Roberta wrote this song about her little black kitten...I saw a reference a few comments back about a cat that was killed on tour ...so possibly a true story then...either way..a lovely song :)
- Sandra, traralgon, Australia
The first time you feel the earth, u feel your soul move as eyes tell the truth, like a romantic novel. ty
- Kimberly, Landing, NJ
Roberta Flack's recording of this song is one of the most beautiful things ever recorded.
- Mark, McHenry, IL
Most of the songs' lyrics don't match what is sung. The original recording sounds different, I have it on 8 track, the last verse is about the same as the first except the last 2 words are repeated twice.
- Michael Scott, Punta Gorda, FL
This song was #1 for six weeks; then her next release, "Killing Me Softly With His Song", stayed at #1 for five weeks. It was followed by "Jesse" which only reached #30, but she roared back with "Feel Like Makin' Love", which peaked at #1 for one week!!!
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
THE best setting for listening to this song.....in a room in COMPLETE darkness (& NO closing your eyes is NOT the same LOL). Anyone agree?
- Ricky, Ohsweken, -
In the original recording, the last line is "I THOUGHT our joy would fill the earth...." With R. Flack's cover, the line is, "I KNEW our joy would fill the earth..."

That one word, for me, changes it from someone reminiscing about a past love to someone singing about a current relationship.

Both renditions are beautiful, but it's interesting how a much impact a little nuance in the lyrics can have.
- P, Chicago, IL
this song can make anyone feel like they want to be in love with someone .this is the song me and my and my husband everynight before we go to bed it reminds us what love was all about in the in the seventies
- cynthia haynes, Bridgeton, NJ
I saw her on Merv Griffin or a sim. show in the mid 70's. I had to refresh my understanding of the story again, but according to her, she cried during the recording of this song. She was thinking of a lost love- Sancho Panza. Sancho was no ordinary man, in fact he wasn't even human. He was her cat that had gotten killed when she was touring. She found out when she got home, just two days before going into the recording studio. Apparently, he crept crept back into her memory.
www.superseventies.com/1972_8singles.html
- mike, seattle, WA
Alex of Melbourne, Australia wants to know how Roberta Flack got onto "The First Time Ever" 15 years after Ewan MacColl wrote it. I learned it from the Chad Mitchell Trio album "Reflecting" (1964?). In the fall of 1966, while working at the Host Farm, a resort hotel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I gave the lyrics and guitar chords to Morgan Ames, who was performing at the piano bar. In the summer of 1974(?) My wife and I saw Roberta Flack perform at the Valley Forge Music Fair outside Philadelphia. She introduced the song by saying that she learned it from her "good friend Morgan Ames". Ron White, Atlanta, Georgia
- Ron, Atlanta, GA
The first time ever I heard this song (sorry, I couldn't resist that!) was by Peter, Paul, & Mary, on their album, 'See What Tomorrow Brings' (1965). It totally blew me away. That's still my favorite version, although I really like what Roberta did with it, too. But if you haven't heard the PPM version, get it -- you won't regret it. *** Don (Shreveport), actually, they don't. If RF did the song this way, it was her own artistic touch, not the original version.
- Fred, Laurel, MD
@Esther, Liverpool:

Started collecting this song in 2002, I have 46 different recordings by 42 artists.
- john, pick one, Netherlands
every time i hear this song i think about my two nieces and my fiance.it always makes me bawl like a baby because it is such a beautiful song.grace,new york
- grace, astoria, NY
A lovely song, never fails to bring a lump to the throat.
- Paul, Worthing, England
what a great love song, remember seeing a tv testimonial for Clint Eastwood years ago , it was like a dinner type setting , Roberta got up and sang this song ....great stuff
- pete, nowra, Australia
Someone wrote: "The title is the first words of the lyrics, but that is the only place those words appear."


Actually, no. They also comprise the end of the song, repeated twice.
- Don, Shreveport, LA
Anyone know how Roberta Flack got on to this song 15 years after it was written by MacColl?
- Alex, Melbourne, Australia
This is one of my favourite songs :) it has been covered quite a lot, by George Micheal, The Stereophonics and Celine Dion.
- esther, liverpool, England
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