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Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

DigiTrad:
THE FIRST TIME


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: The First Time (Ever) - MacColl (34)
Ewan MacColl in the new Private Eye (5)
Did Ewan Maccoll sing The First Time (46)
Lyr Req: First time ever I saw your face (32)
Lyr/Chords Req: The First Time Ever I...(MacColl) (18)
Lyr Req: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (22)


GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 01:04 PM
Vic Smith 25 Feb 12 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,John Foxen 25 Feb 12 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 01:32 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 25 Feb 12 - 01:39 PM
Joe Offer 25 Feb 12 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,John Foxen 25 Feb 12 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,999 25 Feb 12 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 02:21 PM
Paul Burke 25 Feb 12 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,999 25 Feb 12 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,999 25 Feb 12 - 02:31 PM
michaelr 25 Feb 12 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 02:34 PM
GUEST,999 25 Feb 12 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,999 25 Feb 12 - 02:39 PM
JHW 25 Feb 12 - 03:00 PM
Jon Corelis 25 Feb 12 - 03:02 PM
catspaw49 25 Feb 12 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 03:51 PM
Joe Offer 25 Feb 12 - 03:54 PM
GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 03:59 PM
Joe Offer 25 Feb 12 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Lynn 25 Feb 12 - 08:06 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Feb 12 - 04:17 AM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 12 - 06:22 AM
Dave Hanson 26 Feb 12 - 08:13 AM
Vic Smith 26 Feb 12 - 09:27 AM
Jon Corelis 26 Feb 12 - 11:34 AM
Dave Hanson 26 Feb 12 - 11:44 AM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 12 - 01:04 PM
Bonzo3legs 26 Feb 12 - 03:57 PM
Jon Corelis 26 Feb 12 - 04:16 PM
Dave Hanson 26 Feb 12 - 05:00 PM
Les in Chorlton 27 Feb 12 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 27 Feb 12 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,John Foxen 27 Feb 12 - 03:11 PM
Paul Burke 27 Feb 12 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,sunday 12 Jun 14 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,michaelr 12 Jun 14 - 07:00 PM
Amos 12 Jun 14 - 07:42 PM
GUEST 13 Jun 14 - 12:05 AM
mayomick 13 Jun 14 - 03:52 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jun 14 - 07:20 PM
GUEST,Desi C 14 Jun 14 - 05:08 AM
Joe Offer 14 Jun 14 - 05:35 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Jun 14 - 08:43 AM
GUEST 14 Jun 14 - 09:23 AM
Mo the caller 14 Jun 14 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,Musket 15 Jun 14 - 03:31 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Jun 14 - 04:11 AM
Musket 15 Jun 14 - 07:08 AM
Joe Offer 15 Jun 14 - 07:28 AM
TheSnail 15 Jun 14 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,henryp 15 Jun 14 - 08:30 AM
mayomick 15 Jun 14 - 09:12 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Jun 14 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,henryp 15 Jun 14 - 11:30 AM
TheSnail 15 Jun 14 - 11:56 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Jun 14 - 12:25 PM
Mr Red 15 Jun 14 - 05:05 PM
TheSnail 15 Jun 14 - 05:55 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Jun 14 - 03:15 AM
Musket 16 Jun 14 - 05:12 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jun 14 - 06:28 AM
TheSnail 16 Jun 14 - 07:42 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jun 14 - 08:34 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jun 14 - 08:46 AM
TheSnail 16 Jun 14 - 04:12 PM
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Subject: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:04 PM

Hi. I know you have lots of info regarding this song and Ewan MacColl. I came across some interesting information and would like some help if possible. "The songwriter who actually wrote the song "The Frist Time Ever I Saw Your Face", was not Ewan MacColl, but was Lance "Sandy" Sandberg. Mr. Sandberg, who was 14 at the time, wrote the song for the lead singer in his band--she fell for someone else. MCA purchased the rights to the song and royalties for it at a later date because Mr. Sandberg was a starving songwriter/musician." This Person also said "I am not privy to the covenants of these "sales", but a research of MCA's Archives should support this." Since Ewan wrote it "supposedly over the phone" and from what I have read it was written rather quickly... does anyone know about this? or have the means to check this information out? And, mind you, I am no music expert however I love music and do know quite a bit about the subject and especially folk music. Thank you in advance.

Lynn


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Vic Smith
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:19 PM

It's been a while since we had a MacColl thread. I wonder how this one will turn out.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:24 PM

So what you're saying is that all-American company MCA bought the copyright from Sandy Sandburg for peanuts then decided to diddle him out of the royalties and the credit by giving the song to a British communist Ewan MacColl.
It doesn't really sound that credible.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:32 PM

I agree it does not make sense however.... I would like to know if there is some definite proof..... either way....
thanks
Lynn


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:39 PM

Never heard the story ever suggested before. A google of lance sandberg" "ewan maccoll" brings up 2 copies of it on youtube and 3 other copies of the same comment. I believe all are identical (starting Originally, Lance Sandberg, though I didn't check the full text).

It looks like someone posted it once and it's been copied a few times. Wannabe attempt maybe. (Personally, if I were Ewan's estate I'd try and get the statements removed before they're copied further. Here included!)

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:40 PM

I was tempted to combine this thread with the existing origins thread, but maybe I'll let it live on its own and see where it goes. The other origins thread quotes both MacColl and Peggy Seeger, who both claim that MacColl wrote the song.

So, I guess it's the word of MacColl and Seeger against that of "The Person" that Lynn cites. Perhaps "Sandy" will drop by and speak for himself.....

Without proof, I'd tend to take the word of MacColl and Seeger. But hey, we can carry on an argument here for a long, long time until somebody interferes with actual proof. That's why I didn't combine the two threads - because the other thread provides pretty good proof to the contrary. The message containing the quote from MacColl's autobiography is here (click).

-Joe Offer, Mudcat archivist-


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:41 PM

Remember Peggy Seeger is an American.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:52 PM

In the absence of definite proof we should rely on the balance of probabilities.
On the one hand we have the testimonies of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.
We have the fact that MacColl's ownership has never -- until now -- been challenged even when considerable sums were at stake when Flack and Presley's recordings came out.
Usually if there is some dispute over copyright this is when it surfaces.
On the other hand we have an allegation by someone that Lynn can refer to only as "this person" who comes out with a very improbable story about someone nobody knows.
Unless Lynn's "person" can come up with more convincing evidence the balance of probabilities would suggest that this thread be filed away along with "World War Two Bomber found on the Moon" and "Alien carrot ate my husband",


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 01:53 PM

Yes it has been copied and pasted and I am trying to find this person Lance Sandberg since he supposedly is in Texas and is a Biology Professor. I am in Texas and I will not hesitate to pick up the phone to call him. I just wanted some info on whether or not anyone else had heard this and might have more means to pursue than me. I am all for giving credit where credit is due.

The message containing the quote from MacColl's autobiography.. do you not find this comment somehwat interesting?.. "[1989:] It is ironic, considering MacColl's history, that the one song for which he is best known is not political at all, but a love song, and that it became a hit not for him, or Peggy Seeger, but for Roberta Flack. [It] was written "in eight or nine minutes" in 1956 while MacColl, in London, was phoning Peggy Seeger in Los Angeles. Peggy sang it in public for the first time that same evening. In 1972 that same song caused a sensation when Flack's version was used in the soundtrack of the Clint Eastwood film 'Play Misty For Me'."

Lynn


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:12 PM

It seems the below is what started this.

"Isn't this an incredible song? Can you imagine being 14 years old and writing this for the lead singer in your band....only to not fall for him.
This was the testimonial of Dr. Lance "Sandy" Sandberg, PhD. While in dire financial straights, MCA bought the song from him claiming all
songwriting credits and royalties. Sadly Dr. Sandberg, has always heard is song attributed by others, and has never seen a dime from it popularity. Dr. Sandberg teaches at St. Phillips in San Antonio, Texas.
GSpelllvin 2 years ago"

http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=W7ud1xvbG3Q


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:21 PM

Yes it did and I have spent hours researching this.. just because you "google" something and can't find what you are looking for does not mean that the info is incorrect. I was hoping to maybe find someone here who might research more than a google and might have more means than I and help me. If noone else finds this interesting right or wrong then I will not post anymore.

Thank you,
Lynn


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Paul Burke
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:24 PM

What rubbish. Everybody in the Folk world knows the song was originally written (in 1988) by Barry Halpin from Haydock, later known as Lord Lupin. Ewan "Molotov" McColl plargiased.. pelagrised... piglarised... copied it and improved its commercial potential a bit, originally it ran "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Tits", and the tune resembled The Laughing Undertaker.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:26 PM

First, I was trying to help, so stop already with the snottiness.

Second, try to get in touch with the person who posted that on Youtube, and ask at the same time how he/she came to know this.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:31 PM

Incidentally, a Google of

"GSpelllvin"

shows three and only three Google results.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: michaelr
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:31 PM

"Remember Peggy Seeger is an American."

Yes, I do believe we remember. How is it relevant?


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:34 PM

hahahahaha OK.. Well, since I live in the land of NASA and the Johnson Space Center.. the 1969 Moonwalk was really filmed in the basement of a warehouse on the property in clear lake TX..... Ok.. I just found it interesting and I tend to research and all... thanks for the help!!
Lynn


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:37 PM

And another incidentally: this GSpelllvin 'Person' appeared on the www for what seems to be a day in July of 2009, didn't exist before and presumably ceased to exist afterwards. If I was placing bets, I'd lay the money on McColl.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 02:39 PM

Good luck with your search for the truth in this matter. Bye.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: JHW
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 03:00 PM

This website has a Contact button. You could ask there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 03:02 PM

"Incidentally, a Google of

"GSpelllvin"

shows three and only three Google results. "



But a Google search for "george spelvin" proves enlightening.

Jon Corelis
Windows of Air: Songs by Jon Corelis


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 03:15 PM

Total bullshit.

I wrote it and never got any credit at all. It was about early sumer in 1959 and me and a couple of buddies had taken a break from playing catch and were having hosewater Fizzies in aluminum tumblers.   As my grape Fizzie sent bubbles to the surface, they seem to portry the Virgin Mary.   This experience may well have changed my life forever except Joey thought it looked more like Miss McConnell, a really ugly teacher. I had to admit that the facew had changed as the bubbles fizzed out but that first view of Mary was embedded forever.

Then I wrote the song, took a good shit, and got over the whole thing.   We put the shit in a paper sack along with the paper the song was written on which was torn from my Indian Chief tablet and set it on fire on George Spellvin's porch and he ruined a pair of Florscheim wing tips stomping it out.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 03:51 PM

Alright Folks!! Really Now.... I did think it interesting! You guys are very knowledgeable and that is why I posted here! We have to have some curiosity about things Yes? Even the Sublime and Absurd?! Hope I am not branded for life cause of my question and curiosity! Hope everyone has a nice rest of the Weekend! And Cheers!

Lynn


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 03:54 PM

Well, Lynn, Catspaw has branded me for life for a number of things...


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 03:59 PM

Ohhhhh.. Mr. Joe.. you are still here carrying on despite the branding? Maybe there is hope for me!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 05:30 PM

Wall, Spaw is tough on me, fer sure - but hey, he keeps me honest and humble. For example, look what he did to me here (click)...


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 08:06 PM

Hi Joe.. am trying to access that.. my computer is so slow.. My thought is on all of this.. I just want to learn and am curious when certain things pop-up. this was one of them. i have no agenda but to gain knowledge. music makes my world.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 04:17 AM

Simple answer - contact Peggy - she lives in Oxford (UK) and her contact number is on her web-site.
Unfortunately you can't contact Ewan - he died in 1989!
What a load of unpleasant garbage.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 06:22 AM

I don't think the mystery of those posh cord trousers he was wearing at St George's Hall, Liverpool, at The Liverpool Folk Festival, 1970 (ish) has been fully explored either - clash treachery if ever I saw it!

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 08:13 AM

' No agenda but to gain knowledge ' well guest Lynn here is knowledge, Ewan MacColl wrote ' First Time Ever I Saw Your Face ' end of discussion.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Vic Smith
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 09:27 AM

L in C# wrote -
"those posh cord trousers"


Wrong place for this post, Les, you need this thread !


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 11:34 AM

Actually, all of MacColl's songs were in fact written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.


Jon Corelis
Jon Corelis on SoundCloud


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 11:44 AM

Jon who ?

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 01:04 PM

Thanks Vic, it's impressive that you have such an encylopedic knowledge of these McColl related sites - I feel sure that you will know I was the OP for:

"Although from his life's that MacColl saw himself as a man of the left with total commitment to the working class, his trousers had a dubious middle class look about them.

How come so many people did not recognise them as the clue to his class treachery? Can we really hear those Radio Ballads again knowing he was in those trousers when he putting together those great tales of working class struggle, not from a working position, from the comfort of those trousers? "

But still the mystery goes on

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 03:57 PM

Surely it's a prequel to Clive Gregson's "I still see her face"!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 04:16 PM

I deliberately use my name more than once to counterbalance all the people who only post under a handle. That sort of thing may be good enough for some people, but I'm very much afraid it's not good enough for Jon Corelis [insert emoticon of tapping one's own chest.]

Jon Corelis
Jon Corelis: Poems, Plays, Songs, and Essays


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 05:00 PM

Les in C, I'm 100% working class, well I'm retired now actually, but I've got some seriously high class trousers, I GOT THEM IN A CHARITY SHOP FFS, so who knows where Ewan got his trousers ? and why are you so obsessed with them anyway ?

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Feb 12 - 07:13 AM

Good points Dave! I too come from a working class background and now have several pairs of trousers, some leather jackets and a history in suits no less and you are right I should shed my obsession with EM trousers.

I guess hey looked more like class treachery in 1970 than they might today!

Now where is me cravat?

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 27 Feb 12 - 09:35 AM

"It is ironic, considering MacColl's history, that the one song for which he is best known is not political at all"

But Lynn he could write commercially viable songs. Just witness the popularity of Dirty Old Town - and he could write completely non-political and beautiful songs as witnessed by the link below of Sweet Thames Flow Softly. One suspects that had he put his mind to it he could have written many such songs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgwtl-s0CNI


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 27 Feb 12 - 03:11 PM

At last some sort of proof from Lynn of MacColl's plagiarism.
It is a well known fact that Sweet Thames Flow Softly was written by the juvenile poet poet Eddie Spenser who was starving and had to sell the rights to his song to Faber publishing hack Tommy S Eliot. Eliot stole a few lines for himself and passed the rest to MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Paul Burke
Date: 27 Feb 12 - 03:38 PM

Pity McConical dropped Eftsoons the Nymph from his version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,sunday
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 04:00 PM

I am currently taking Microbiology with Dr. Sandberg. He is a character. Maybe I'll ask him about this claim.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,michaelr
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 07:00 PM

Oh, Guest Sunday, please do and report back! This is just the sort of thing we love around here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Amos
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 07:42 PM

Second the motion, Mister Sunday. We'd love to hear from you on his response to the issue.

A


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jun 14 - 12:05 AM

The fact that there really is a Dr Lance Sandberg and there really is a St Phillips College in San Antonio (and he even teaches there!) is a surprising twist to this story, making the claim so much more interesting.

Another interesting aspect, not discussed previously, is that G Spelllvin is a variant of a traditional pseudonym - George/Georgina Spelvin

Virtual soapbox at https://www.youtube.com/user/GSpelllvin


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: mayomick
Date: 13 Jun 14 - 03:52 PM

And he pinched the melody from the Jimmy Page version of Blackwaterside (not the Bert Jansch version)lol


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Jun 14 - 07:20 PM

No evidence to support the story, outside of the comment on youtube.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 14 Jun 14 - 05:08 AM

Proof? Well, if proof is the man himself clearly saying he wrote it, Ewan McColl that is, then there certainly IS proof. I've never heard the story saying this other guy wrote it by the way! I'm sure McColl must have told the story a few times, but I well remember he and Peggy Seeger appeared on Radio 2's Folk on Two in the early 80's, and as best I remember, McColl had either been travelling to America or just returned. He phoned Pegy from the airport. She was about to do a show, she told him she was in need of one more song, a ballad, for her set. He told her he had a 'song in progress' And give him 5 minutes he'd finish it. So he completed the song on the back of a Park Drive Cigarette packed, rang her back and dictated it to her, hence the song was born. I'm sure BBC Radio can confirm that. I've also read the very same story in at least tw books. McColl also said the royalties (from the hit version) Enabled him to complete several Folk archive projects. P.S he said he wrote the song About Peggy


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jun 14 - 05:35 AM

I'm getting a little confused here. For which song did MacColl "pinch the melody from the Jimmy Page version of Blackwaterside"?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Jun 14 - 08:43 AM

The origin of the song
Peggy was on tour in America - Ewan had been refused a visa.
She phoned Ewan and during the conversation she said she needed a contemporary love song.
Ewan made it on the spot and she use it on the tour.
This is the note to it from the Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook

"THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE (1957)
You can sweat blood over a song, writing and rewriting for weeks and even then it may or may not turn out right. On the other hand, you can sit down and write a song in half an hour or even shorter. This song was made in the course of a transatlantic telephone call to Peggy, who was in Los Angeles at the time. It took all of seven or eight minutes to complete and was never rewritten. Peggy sang it from a typed text that same evening and has gone on singing it for the last twenty-seven years. Scores of other singers have recorded it, but only Peggy's singing matches the feelings that gave rise to it.
Ewan Mac Coll"
That he 'stole' any songs provide a great deal of entertainment for those of us lucky enough to have known and worked with him.
This particular Finn MacColl Cycle of legends includes, 'Shoals of Herring', which he 'stole' off Sam Larner and all the Travellers' songs which he 'nicked' off - well - the Travellers in general.
MacColl's tunes are mostly traceable - many of them of that time were adapted from Irish traditional ones - I think I worked out where he got 'First Time' from - can't remember the title, but I suspect it's one of Joe Heaney's.
He once described Presley's version as sounding like "a bloke shouting up a serenade to his bird living on the top floor of a ten storey block of flats".   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jun 14 - 09:23 AM

There was a programme about Roberta Flack on BBC4 last night, called "Killing Me Softly", which also mentioned the song and played bits. Available via the BBC iPlayer.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Mo the caller
Date: 14 Jun 14 - 09:42 AM

In the Mudcat tradition of thread drift I read this thread title as Since First I Saw Your Face
which Wiki says was written by Thomas Ford in 1607

Just thought you'd like to know that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:31 AM

At the risk of name dropping, McColl and Seeger gave me the full story when I interviewed them. I asked about the opportunity the royalties gave for them to further their trade without having to worry about putting meat on the table.

That supplementary question says it all. If there were claims to the song they would have been made.

The combination of chart topping hit in 1972 by Roberta Flack and covers by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, London Symphony Orchestra, Stereophonics etc.

The song netted them millions of pounds. Worth a legal punt if you had a claim?


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 04:11 AM

One of the offshoots of the royalties was 'Blackthorne Records' which gave us (in my opinion) one of the best collections of ballads produced in the Revival (Blood and Roses).
I don't know how much the song netted them; I do know they continued to live in their three bedroom maisonette in Beckenham and to fight for causes such as the miners - can't imagine they ever voted for Mrs T!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Musket
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 07:08 AM

Well as an ex miner, who was on strike, who popped a cheap bottle champagne when Thatcher died but sold my business for a fair few million, I'm not sure I understand the point Jim?

McColl was typical rather than unique. I get slightly pissed off when people judge your values by your value as it were...


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 07:28 AM

I repeat: I'm getting a little confused here. Mayomick, for which song did MacColl "pinch the melody from the Jimmy Page version of Blackwaterside"? It's clear that MacColl "borrowed" from many sources for many of his songs, but isn't "The First Time" completely original?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 08:12 AM

Major thread drift but "Peggy sang it from a typed text that same evening"

Well!


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 08:30 AM

The first time ever I sang you song...


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: mayomick
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 09:12 AM

Apologies for slyness ,Joe .Yes, Ewan Mac wrote it . I've asked before on mudcat if people thought he may have got the tune from listening to Blackwaterside. Nobody expressed an opinion , so that was my way of raising the issue again.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 10:49 AM

"McColl was typical rather than unique"
Typical of whom Muskie
Don't know many people who fund-raised with benefit evenings and concerts, proselytized and wrote songs to the extent he and Peggy did.
My point was that, however much they made from the song, it in no way changed their outlook on life.
"Well!"
Well what Bryan?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 11:30 AM

Well, Peggy could obviously type.

Unless she had a secretary, or perhaps a telex link.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 11:56 AM

Jim Carroll
Well what Bryan?

There have been a number of threads raging against the use of word and/or tune sheets in folk clubs and sessions. I can't recall whether you've been invoved in any of them or not. It seems to be generally thought that you can't do justice to a song if you are reading the words especially if you announce "This is one I wrote this afternoon". It is interesting to discover that Peggy Seeger was not above that sort of thing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 12:25 PM

"I can't recall whether you've been involved "
I was involved and I am an opponent of the practice
First Time Ever was written in 1961 or 1962 'when we were all young and foolish' - even Peggy!!
It was made for a specific occasion, I've no idea whether itr was a public performance or a recording.
I've always wondered whether she accompanied it, and if so, how, with a crib sheet in her hand.
Of course the story might well have been one of Ewan's exxagerations - he certainly was not "above that sort of thing" - one of his more lovable features.
I have never seen either of them sing from a crib-sheet in front of an audience, though I know they used them as an aid-memoir when recording for albums.
The only other occasions I can recall were when the Singer's Club changed locations.
In the very early days Ewan made a song entitled 'Song of the Travels' and made it a practice to add a verse when they moved to sing on the first night in the new premises - I think it ended up with around a dozen verses.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Mr Red
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 05:05 PM

FWIW
Peggy Seeger at a Sidmouth concert (withing the last two years) introduced the song with a comment roughly to the effect "he said he wrote it during a telephone conversation, but I don't believe it"

Sort of confirming the myth and de-bunking it at the same time. If anyone should know - it is her.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 05:55 PM

Jim Carroll
I was involved and I am an opponent of the practice

I'm not too keen on it myself but I think it is as well to bear in mind that there may well be extenuating circumstances whether it be being young and foolish or old and a little forgetful.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 03:15 AM

"but I don't believe it"
Wonder why, as she's always claimed the telephone conversation was to her, and has made the same claim herself when I've seen her perform the song
It was her who included it in the notes to the song when she published his collection, "The Essential Ewan MacColl", several years after his death.
This from his Wiki entry - not always reliable:
"For example, he wrote "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" very quickly at the request of Peggy Seeger, who needed it for use in a play she was appearing in. He taught it to her by long-distance telephone, while she was on tour in the United States (from which MacColl had been barred because of his Communist past)."
Who knows - she might reveal all in her autobiography!
We are interviewing her in a couple of months time for a two programme radio programme on Ewan we are working on - we'll make a point of asking her.
Been thinking about the origin of the tune, which I thought I had narrowed down to an Irish-language song air, which I know Seamus Ennis sang and played and I think Joe Heaney sang; both were friends and fellow performers of MacColl in the early days of 'Ballads and Blues' in London.
On the other hand, he would usually take an existing air and sing it about the house until he had adapted it, often out of all recognition.
A year or so before the song was made he was working on the Radio Ballads; the second on 'Song of a Road' included the McPeakes, and their 'Verdant Braes of Screen' would have fitted perfectly into his method of work.
He was recording Sam Larner around that time, Sam's 'Baffled Knight' tune (Blow Away the Morning Dew), would have fitted equally well.
"extenuating circumstances"
Agreed - as long as it doesn't become common practice, which I got the impression it was.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Musket
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 05:12 AM

Jim. When I said he was typical, I meant in that becoming rich doesn't make you a Thatcher lover, as you inferred. He wasn't the only one who stuck to his principles. Most people do.

A mate of mine won a tenner on a scratch card the other week. He still drives a shed masquerading as a Vauxhall Astra. Still sneaks off to the bog when it's his round for that matter.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 06:28 AM

Fairy Nuff Muskie
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: TheSnail
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 07:42 AM

Jim Carroll
Agreed - as long as it doesn't become common practice, which I got the impression it was.

Where did you get that impression Jim? Direct personal experience or reading it on Mudcat?
It may depend on the example set by people's role models.


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 08:34 AM

Bit of both really Brian.
The last three evenings have spent in London clubs have been pepped with 'readers'
Mudcat and other discussions I have had and read seems to indicate it is certainly not uncommon, and contributors to this site have made it clear that they see no objection to it.
It wasn't totally unknown before I left the UK in 1998.
Because it doesn't happen at your club doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
The 'role models' (what and whoever they are) that I know didn't do it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 08:46 AM

Sorry - should read 'Bryan'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From: TheSnail
Date: 16 Jun 14 - 04:12 PM

Jim Carroll
contributors to this site have made it clear that they see no objection to it.
Really? I thought the majority opinion was agin it.

Because it doesn't happen at your club doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
Just because it happens doesn't make it "common practice". What gives you the impression it was?

The 'role models' (what and whoever they are) that I know didn't do it.
Er? Peggy Seeger?


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