Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

First Hit #1: April 15, 1972

The best love songs are slow, and some of the most compelling have a tinge of darkness to the sound. Roberta Flack’s rendition of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – slowed down significantly from the original versions – is an example of this. The words tell the story of love at first sight – and then subsequently love at every meaningful interaction – and Flack’s voice soars as she sings them. But the song is so slow it gives a tinge of melancholy, even as it tells a love story. It’s a sound that has been adopted by some modern bands – in particular the band Low owes a large debt to this recording, as they’re doing basically the same thing decades later – and it inspires a complex range of emotions in a way a song recorded at a faster tempo couldn’t quite manage. It sounds beautiful, but the slight melancholy gives it a greater depth than it would otherwise possess.

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