Post by Chris J Dixon Post by Nick Odell Post by krw Post by Nick Odell Post by Sam Plusnet Post by steve hague
I'll give it a listen. Legend has it that McColl first sang it to her
down the phone. I think the first version I heard was Cleo Laine and
I wonder what that transatlantic call cost back then?
I am pretty sure she was living in England at that time.
I am pretty sure he was in the UK but she was visiting the States at the
time of the said conversation.
Peggy Seeger is not my Mastermind specialist subject so some or all of
this could be wrong...
I believe he wrote the song in or around 1957. Thanks to Senator Joe
McCarthy and between at least 56-58, if Peggy Seeger had returned to
the USA she would have had her passport revoked: this was behind her
marriage of convenience to Alex Campbell - which incidentally took
place in Paris, did it not? Could she have been in Europe at the time
of the phone call?
According to Peggy's memoir "First Time Ever" Page 110, she was
in the US.
"Ewan wrote, made a phone call whenever he could afford it. One
day I told him a Los Angeles radio show had asked me for a very
short, modern love song. 'How about this one?' and he sang 'The
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'. Yes, that'll do nicely."
That is more or less what she said in the interview which was used in
the Soul Music programme so I guess that must be the Authorised
Not that I have had nothing better to do with my time but searching
for different takes on the story has been fascinating: different
language versions of Wikipedia seem not to be machine translations but
actually have different stories with different attributions which all
confuse rather than inform.
My favourite document that I have turned up has been:
Communist Passport Frauds: A Staff Study Prepared for the Subcommittee
to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and
Other Internal Security Laws July 11, 1958
..from which I offer this extract:
Another member of the "executive committee" was Peggy Seeger of Santa
Barbara, Calif. Margaret (Peggy) Seeger was issued passport 729373 on
July 11, 1955. She declared that she was visiting the Netherlands for
study at the University of Lieden. She is the sister of Pete Seeger, a
singer of radical songs at Communist functions who was indicted in
Federal court on March 26, 1957 for contempt of Congress in refusing
to answer questions before the House Committee on Un-American
Activities pertaining to his alleged affiliation with the Communist
Party. She and Guy Carawan engaged in banjo strumming and song as the
delegation started from Moscow for its China tour On April 19, 1958,
her passport was confiscated by order of the American Embassy in
London, because she had made the unauthorized trip to Communist China.
..engaged in banjo strumming and song... indeed!