The First Time I Loved Forever

Album: released as a single (1989)

Songfacts®:

  • This was the theme song for the live-action Beauty And The Beast television series that ran from 1987 to 1990, starring Ron Perlman as Vincent (the Beast) and Linda Hamilton as Catherine (the Beauty). The version played on the opening credits to the show has no singing, instead using spoken passages by the lead actors over the music to introduce the premise. It starts with Perlman saying:

    This is where the wealthy and the powerful rule. It is her world, a world apart from mine. Her name is Catherine. From the moment I saw her, she captured my heart with her beauty, her warmth, and her courage. I knew then, as I know now, she would change my life forever.

    Hamilton then comes in:

    He comes from a secret place, far below the city streets, hiding his face from strangers, safe from hate and harm. He brought me there to save my life, and now, wherever I go, he is with me, in spirit. For we have a bond stronger than friendship or love. And although we cannot be together, we will never, ever be apart.

    The show is set in New York City, with Vincent dwelling underground. Hamilton left the show after the second season, so her passage in the open was removed and replaced with a longer narration by Perlman.
  • Lee Holdridge, a prolific composer of TV and movie themes, did the instrumental music for the series, including the theme song. "The First Time I Loved Forever" extends his theme into a full song sung by the country artist Lisa Angelle with lyrics written by the singer-songwriter Melanie, who had hits in the '70s with "Brand New Key" and "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)." It was released as a single to help promote the series.
  • The song alternates between spoken sections by Ron Perlman (as Vincent) and verses sung by Angelle, expressing their love story in very poetic terms. There is no chorus, but the title line is repeated twice, first in the memorable line:

    The first time I loved forever
    Was when you whispered my name


    The song doesn't have any specific references to the show, which makes it work as a universal love song. Some couples have played it at their weddings.
  • Melanie wrote the lyric in a fit of inspiration and turned it in soon after she got the assignment. Bad move. Executives thought that because she did it so quickly, it wasn't properly crafted, so they sent her back to rework it. Melanie wrote other sets of lyrics that were rejected, then re-submitted her first draft, which this time was approved - the executives had no idea they were accepting the same lyrics they'd previously rejected.

    "I think the world of people that don't do any creative work like to see the artist take a lot of time and articulate things about it so they know they worked for the money," Melanie told Songfacts. "If anybody wanted anything ever after that, I would make sure I took a good week and a half before I gave them anything."
  • This won the 1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics for the song's composers, Lee Holdridge and Melanie. Beauty And The Beast also won Emmys for costumes, cinematography and art direction.

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