13 January 2020

Entranced

Roberta Flack singing Ewan MacColl's timeless song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" back in 1972. At the weekend, I caught this very performance on a BBC 2 music show and I was almost as entranced as Roberta appears to be herself. A talented pianist and singer, it is as if everything has come together quite magically in that performance - the song itself, her voice, her fingers on the keyboard. It is transcendent and it is as if a curtain has been pulled back ever so slightly allowing us look in - not on humanity's "heart of darkness" but on the golden brightness within - what it really means to be a human being.

Born in 1937 in Black Mountain, North Carolina, Roberta Cleopatra Flack will be 83 years old next month.

34 comments:

  1. I agree with your words about her incredible talent. I have heard that she wrote that song about Don McClean and yes, I know that sounds crazy but seriously, I think it's true.
    Also, I had no idea she was born on Black Mountain, NC. That's where Vergil's family is from and where he grew up.

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    1. Maybe she was thinking about Don McLean but Ewan MacColl wrote it. How amazing that Vergil hails from the same little corner of North Carolina.

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  2. A beautiful song...a perfect, beautiful performance. Almost eclipsed by the movie that used the song in part of its score..."Play Misty For Me".

    Interesting piece of trivia....""The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is a 1957 folk song written by British political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, who later became his wife. At the time, the couple were lovers, although MacColl was still married to Joan Littlewood. Seeger sang the song when the duo performed in folk clubs around Britain.

    During the 1960s, it was recorded by various folk singers and became a major international hit for Roberta Flack in 1972, winning Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year."

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    1. It was an honour to remind you of this lovely song Lee and such a talented singer too.

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  3. I love Roberta Flack's rendition of this song. In fact, until I read in your post that it was written by someone else, I thought it had been either written by her or for her; she made it so entirely her own, at least on this side of the Atlantic. She has such a rich, flowing voice and amazing expression, nothing forced -- it just flows from her, effortlessly, it seems. Thanks for reminding me of this beautiful song tonight, YP.

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    1. Her talent for music and singing was spotted at a very early age. She certainly seems to"own" that song completely.

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  4. P. S. I decided to be brave and try to add the blog award widget and - will wonders never cease - it worked, and I didn't fry my blog!! I was even able to get it linked to your blog. I've heard of so many people who had problems when they tried to alter their layout or format. I'm relieved nothing crashed, and feel marginally competent to try more. Maybe later. Much later.

    Please believe there was nothing personal in my delay, YP. It just made me very nervous to think about wiping out my blog.

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    1. I understand entirely. The Awards Committee are deeply impressed with your technical wizardry.

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  5. Thank you for this Mr. Pudding. I haven't heard it in quite some time and it still has the same heart wrenching effect on me. I live just down the hi way from Black Mountain: didn't know she was from there. Makes me feel special somehow. 83!! How time flies.

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    1. Time flies but after 48 years Roberta Flack sings that song with a beauty that is fresh.

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  6. I have tears in my eyes as I am typing this. Moments like that make me believe that maybe all is not lost, after all, when it comes to our species. As long as we have something like that in us...
    That is one wonderful lady being ONE with her song and her instrument. Beautiful, just beautiful.

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    1. I am so pleased I guided you there through this blogpost Meike.

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  7. I remember the first time I heard her sing this song. It is truly magical the way she and the song fit so perfectly. Maybe the world needs to take time for moments like this a little more often. There has been too much darkness in our world and some brightness like this might help.

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  8. The definition of transcendent

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  9. A very talented songwriter, Socialist and singer. Diry Old Town is probably my favourite. Roberta Flack is amazing too.

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    1. It is funny how a guy who specialised in songs of protest and the folk tradition could produce such a poignant and intimate love song.

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    2. The Manchester Rambler is a great protest folk song and Dirty Old Town is often thought to be Dublin when in fact it is Salford. He was a great songwriter.

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  10. A beautiful song and a moving rendition. I was away at the weekend but I'm hoping that I can see the boys' programme on catchup.

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    1. If not, "Living on the Veg" is on for the next nine Sundays.

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  11. This was always a favourite of mine. I used to sing it in the shower - wasn't quite as good as Roberta Flack.

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    1. I bet there was a mirror.

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    2. Why would you have a mirror in the shower, it would get steamed up.

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    3. Yes but you could sing "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" to yourself!

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  12. Oh my God. I can't believe she's almost 83. That freaks me out. She does have some amazing records -- I've been a longtime fan of her "Killing Me Softly" album.

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    1. "Killing Me Softly" is another wonderful song.

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  13. An amazing voice.

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  14. Such a beautiful song, I sing it to Tom sometimes.lol
    Briony
    x

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  15. Love Roberta, love that song. Like the Joe Cocker version of the song slightly better

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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