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Behind the Song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"

Je savais I knew

Que la première fois That the first time

Serait la dernière pour moi Would be the last time for me

Et j'ai envie de parler au Ciel And I want to speak to heaven

Dites-lui de m'aimer toujours, mon Dieu Tell him to love me always, my god

Dites-lui de m'aimer toujours Tell him to love me always

This song was originally written in English in 1957 by Ewan MacColl for his lover, Peggy Seeger, but couldn’t find the right voice for it. Apparently he hated all who had covered it in the early 60s including Elvis, Peter Paul & Mary, and even Johnny Cash at a later date. Then Miss Roberta Flack heard it through a friend and taught her students the song in their high school glee club. She would regularly perform it at her residency at a Pennsylvania night club and eventually recorded it in 1969. The song made her a breakout star when Clint Eastwood used her recording in his 1971 directorial debut film, Play Misty For Me.

Since then, hundreds and I mean hundreds of legendary artists have lent their voices to this song, including Nana Mouskouri, who ended up on my radar this past year when I began listening to French music. I recognized the tune but never heard it like this; it made me stop in my tracks. Nana’s voice hit me right in the soul and her translation of the song gave it a whole new meaning for me. I decided I would combine what I loved most about the original English version with my newfound love of French, since my husband has brought this beautiful language into my life and I never could express exactly how I felt the first time ever I saw his face, that first day across the parking lot near the school where I was teaching music lessons just like Miss Roberta Flack. And there you have it folks, a little history behind the song.


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