Personal “Thank You” to rdl3053 for making this request … I was looking for the version performed by Johnny Cash but I couldn’t find the music. As a result, I challenged myself by following the pure sound of Roberta Flack. I hope that many will be pleased by my effort to find my own simple interpretation of this beautiful composition.
May Day is an important holiday all over the world, for people from Communists to Pagans and everyone in between. Depending on the context, May Day has a different significance for different individuals, but it is generally a day of celebration. Many of these celebrations get quite raucous in some parts of the world, as many May Day festivals involve drinking, dancing, bonfires, and other general mischief. The significance of the holiday has also changed over the centuries, with the rise of Christianity and attempts to suppress Pagan religions.
As a Pagan holiday, May Day is quite old. Also known as Beltane, May Day was designated as a holiday to promote and celebrate fertility. It was also a chance to celebrate the end of the cold winter months, as the first day of May was also the beginning of summer. May Day celebrations included large bonfires on which people burned offerings of flowers and food, and cattle were traditionally driven between the fires so that they would be blessed with fertility. Many humans did likewise. May Day celebrations also included dancing around the May Pole, a dance traditionally performed by young women bedecked with flowers and ribbons.
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is a 1957 folk song written by political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, who was later to become his wife. At the time the couple were lovers, although MacColl was married to someone else. MacColl wrote the song for Seeger, also a folk singer, after she asked him to pen a song for a play she was in. MacColl wrote the song and taught it to Seeger over the phone.
The alternative version of the creation of this song is that MacColl was challenged by a friend to write a love song, with no politics. This song was the result. MacColl and Seeger included the song in their repertoire, when performing in folk clubs around Britain. During the 1960s, it was recorded by various folk singers (including a version as a solo guitar instrumental by Bert Jansch).
The song entered the pop mainstream when it was released by Peter, Paul and Mary (Album: See What Tomorrow Brings, 1965), and was later recorded by Roberta Flack, in 1972. The Flack version was much slower than the original: an early solo recording by Seeger, for example, clocked in at two and a half minutes long, whereas Flack's is more than twice that length. It was subsequently covered by numerous other artists.
MacColl reputedly hated almost all the recordings of the song, including Flack's. His daughter-in-law is quoted as saying: "He hated all of them. He had a special section in his record collection for them, entitled 'The Chamber of Horrors'. He said that the Elvis version was like Romeo at the bottom of the Post Office Tower singing up to Juliet. And the other versions, he thought, were travesties: bludgeoning, histrionic and lacking in grace."
The song was popularized by Roberta Flack and became a breakout hit for the singer after it appeared in the film Play Misty for Me. Though the song first appeared on Flack's 1969 album First Take, Flack's recording of the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 and won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year three years later. Flack's slower, more sensual version was used by Clint Eastwood in his 1971 directorial debut Play Misty for Me during a lovemaking scene. With the new exposure, Atlantic Records cut the song down to four minutes and released it to radio. It became an extremely successful single in the United States, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts in April 1972 for six week runs on each. It reached number fourteen on the UK Singles Chart.