Happy Monday! First let me start off by saying that I enjoyed being the May Co-Host for the Monday’s Music Moves Me blog hop. Thanks for participating in my themes. It was really cool to see what you all came up with for them. Crazy how many songs there were to fit those themes, huh? We all just scratched the surface in both!
Well you know me, I had to turn one of them into a series, right? So here we are with the third installment of the Rock & Roll Head to Toe body parts songs series. Starting at the top of the body, I’ve already explored Head songs and Hair songs. Today’s freebie post will be my FACE installment, featuring songs with the word FACE in the title.
As always, below is a playlist of my favorite FACE songs, and some others I discovered along the way that I really like. Below the playlist is some background info and fun facts on each of the songs presented. Read it all, just skim through it, read only about those songs you might be interested in or don’t read any of it…It’s all up to you. But be sure to hit Play on the playlist, There’s some really good stuff in there! Hope you enjoy.
My Face playlist:
Smiling Faces Sometimes by the Undisputed Truth – This one-hit-wonder is by far one of my all-time favorites and for sure my favorite in this list. “Smiling Faces Sometimes” is a soul song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Motown label. It was originally recorded by the Temptations in 1971. Producer Norman Whitfield had the song re-recorded by the Undisputed Truth the same year, resulting in a number-three Billboard Hot 100 position for the group. “Smiling Faces” was the only Top 40 single released by the Undisputed Truth, and was included on their debut album The Undisputed Truth. (That’s a cool name for a band. So fitting for the era. Does anyone know how they came up with the name? I couldn’t find anything on that).
The Undisputed Truth group was assembled by Norman Whitfield in 1970 in an effort to bring some new blood to Motown. The male singer in the group was Joe Harris, who had been in various groups in Detroit. The female singers were Brenda Joyce Evans and Billie Rae Calvin, who sang backup for Motown on tracks for The Supremes and The Four Tops. “Smiling Faces” ended up being the group’s only substantial hit. The group went through a number of lineup changes, appearing in various guises throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
As for the two versions of “Smiling Faces Sometimes” (the Temptations and the Undisputed Truth): Both versions deal with the same subject matter, “back-stabbing” friends who do their friends wrong behind their backs (“Smiling faces sometimes…they don’t tell the truth…smiling faces sometimes tell lies”), but in different ways. The Temptations’ original uses an arrangement similar to a haunted house film score to represent feelings of fear and timidness. Included on their 1971 Sky’s the Limit album, “Smiling Faces Sometimes” runs over 12 minutes, most of which is extended instrumental passages without any vocals. An edited version was planned as the Temptations’ summer 1971 single release, but this plan was dropped when lead vocalist Eddie Kendricks, frustrated by personnel problems within the group, quit the Temptations and signed a solo deal with Motown in March 1971.
Whitfield was known for recording dramatically different versions of the same song with different Motown artists [including Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (re-recorded as hit records for Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Marvin Gaye) and the Temptations’ “War” (re-recorded as a hit for Edwin Starr)]. After Kendricks left The Temptations, an undaunted Whitfield re-recorded the song with his latest protégés, psychedelic funk trio the Undisputed Truth. Billboard ranked the resulting single as the #14 song for 1971.
Whitfield later revisited the song for the 1973 album Ma, recorded by Motown’s white rock band, Rare Earth, which he produced and wrote. Whitfield may have been Motown’s most adventurous producer at the time but he was also kind of a snake from what I’ve read about him. That’s not atypical with a lot of music industry executives back in the day.
Per music artist biographer Richie Unterberger:
It’s fair to say that the Undisputed Truth were little more than a mouthpiece for Whitfield. He wrote most of their material (sometimes in association with Barrett Strong), and used their sessions as a laboratory to devise funk rhythms and psychedelic guitar effects. He was doing the same thing with the Temptations, and the Undisputed Truth’s records couldn’t help but suffer in comparison. As vocalists they weren’t in the same league as the Temps, and Whitfield was most likely reserving his real killer songs for the more famous group.
FUN FACT: The line, “can you dig it?” comes up a few times in this song. That was a popular saying at the time, used by The Friends of Distinction on their 1969 cover of Grazing In The Grass.
Have You Seen Her Face by the Byrds – “Have You Seen Her Face” is a song by the American rock band the Byrds, written by the group’s bass player Chris Hillman and included on their 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday.
I’ve Just Seen a Face by the Beatles – “I’ve Just Seen a Face” is a song by the Beatles. It was written by Paul McCartney and features McCartney on vocals. The song was recorded by the Beatles on June 14, 1965 at EMI Studios in London in the same session as “Yesterday” and “I’m Down”. It appeared on their 1965 UK album Help! In the US, “I’ve Just Seen a Face” was held back to be released on the Rubber Soul album, since the label wanted to give that album more acoustic numbers in keeping with the folk-rock fad popular at the time.
Before its recording, the song was briefly titled “Auntie Gin’s Theme” after McCartney’s father’s youngest sister, because it was one of her favorites.
McCartney has stated,
“It was slightly country and western from my point of view… it was faster, though, it was a strange uptempo thing. I was quite pleased with it. The lyric works; it keeps dragging you forward, it keeps pulling you to the next line, there’s an insistent quality to it that I liked.”
FUN FACT: It’s not often that a bass player writes a song with no bass guitar, but that was the case here. This is one of the few Beatles songs without a bass guitar.
My Brave Face by Paul McCartney – “My Brave Face” is a single from Paul McCartney’s 1989 album, Flowers in the Dirt. Written by McCartney and Elvis Costello, “My Brave Face” is one of the most popular songs from Flowers in the Dirt. It peaked at #18 in the United Kingdom a week after its debut, and #25 in the United States 7 weeks after its debut. It was McCartney’s last top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 until his 2014 collaboration with Kanye West, “Only One”, and as of 2017 is the last Billboard top 40 hit with any former Beatle in the lead credit.
Like other songs from Flowers in the Dirt, despite the song’s chart success, to date it has not been included on any McCartney compilation album.
FUN FACT: McCartney co-wrote this song with Elvis Costello. Elvis urged Paul to play his famous Hofner violin bass on the song, so Paul got it out of storage. Paul said it even had the set list still taped on it from the Beatles’ 1969 Apple “rooftop” concert. This inspired the music video of a Japanese collector stealing the now-priceless artifact.
I Don’t Wanna Face It by John Lennon – This song is on Milk and Honey, the sixth and final album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono released in 1984. Following the compilation The John Lennon Collection, it is Lennon’s eighth and final studio album, and the first posthumous release of new Lennon music, having been recorded in the last months of his life during and following the sessions for his 1980 album Double Fantasy. It was assembled by Yoko Ono in association with the Geffen label.
There is also an acoustic version of this song. The band version came out on the album “Milk and Honey”. Prior to bringing it to the studio to make it for his album he had done a great acoustic version, which you can hear below. [With everything that’s going on with my Mom right now, I am totally relating to the song title and the repeating lyric lines “I don’t wanna face it”…]
New Faces by The Rolling Stones – This song is from the Rolling Stones album Voodoo Lounge, released in July 1994. It is the 20th British and 22nd American studio album as their first new release under their new alliance with Virgin Records. It ended a five-year gap since their last studio album, Steel Wheels, in 1989. Voodoo Lounge is also the band’s first album without long-time bassist Bill Wyman. He left the band in early 1991, though the Stones did not formally announce the departure until 1993.
This song, although another Rolling Stones gem, received little or no radio air-play so many are not familiar with it.
My Fist Your Face by Aerosmith – “My Fist Your Face” is a song from hard rock band Aerosmith’s eighth album Done with Mirrors. It was the second track on the album and was released as a promo-only 12-inch single to US radio stations in 1985, the third promo-only single taken from the album.
Done with Mirrors, released November 4, 1985, marked the return to the band of guitarists Joe Perry, who had left in 1979, and Brad Whitford, who had left in 1981. As the band’s first album on Geffen Records, it was intended as their “comeback”. However, despite good reviews, it did not live up to commercial expectations.
On VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer expressed his dislike of Done with Mirrors, claiming that the band “never really finished it.”
Joe Perry was similarly dismissive:
“Done with Mirrors, as far as I’m concerned, is our least inspired record. But I’ve heard fans really like it, so I’m not gonna stand there and tell ’em, ‘No, it sucks.’ We had to do that record to get to the next one, so it served its purpose. I just don’t think it’s up to the standard of some of our others.”
Viacom (MTV & VH1) executive Doug Herzog recalled that, after this album, “Aerosmith was done… They were a little bit of a joke.” However, they would revive their career in 1986 with a landmark remake of 1975’s “Walk This Way” with hip-hop group Run DMC, followed by an album that would eventually go 5× Platinum – Permanent Vacation – in 1987.
Despite the band’s views, the album earned mostly positive reviews, and is a cult favorite among fans.
FUN FACT: Regarding the title and the packaging: In keeping with the album’s title, all the text (bar the catalog number and UPC) on the original releases were written backward – to be read by holding it to a mirror. Re-releases flip the artwork so it can be read without a mirror, and add the band’s logo. As a result, the original CD (which came in a longbox) is collectable. (All text in the booklet of the first CD pressing is also backward.)
The title refers both to illusions that are “done with mirrors” and the laying out of drugs such as cocaine, traditionally snorted off a mirror.
I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind by the Doors – This song is on the album Strange Days, the second studio album by American rock band the Doors, released on September 25, 1967 by Elektra Records. The album was a commercial success, reaching number 3 on the US Billboard 200, and eventually earning RIAA platinum certification. The album contains the Top 30 hit singles “People Are Strange” and “Love Me Two Times”.
Face to Face by Quiet Riot – “Face to Face” is on Quiet Riot II, the second studio album by heavy metal band Quiet Riot, released in 1978. As with their first album, it was a Japan-only release. Although Rudy Sarzo is pictured and credited, the recordings were made while bassist Kelly Garni was still in the band.
This is the last Quiet Riot album to feature guitarist Randy Rhoads, as he left the band the following year to join Ozzy Osbourne’s band.
Eyes Without a Face by Billy Idol – I had originally planned to use this song in the upcoming EYES installment but there are a ton of Eye songs so I decided to movie this Billy Idol “ballad” over to this FACE post.
“Eyes Without a Face” is a song by English rock musician Billy Idol, from his second album Rebel Yell (1983). It was released in 1984, as the second single from the album. The song is softer and more ballad-like than most of the album’s other singles. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Idol’s first Top 10 hit in the USA. The song is notable for the female voice of Perri Lister singing the French vocals. Perri Lister, also a dancer, is Idol’s girlfriend, and was part of a performance group called Hot Gossip. Lister appeared the video for this song and three others by Idol: “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell” and “Hot In The City.” In this song she sings “Les yeux sans visage” (French for “Eyes without a face”) as a background chorus. The title of the song refers to the English title of French director Georges Franju’s 1960 film Les yeux sans visage.
An interesting song interpretation with contrasts & comparisons to the film (from Songfacts):
Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face) is the title to a chillingly horrific yet classically poetic 1960 film from acclaimed French director Georges Franju. In it, a gifted plastic surgeon is involved in a near fatal auto accident which horribly disfigures the once beautiful face of his beloved daughter. Along with his assistant, he abducts young women so that he may surgically remove their facial features and graft their beauty onto that of his daughter’s grotesque countenance.
More than the typical Mad Scientist gore flick of the “horror” genre in movies, it deals with real humanistic themes rather than the loud crash and bang after a minute long string instrument is played in a high key. The arrogance, vanity, and what we ultimately come to realize, guilt of the father who now treats his daughter as a sort of porcelain doll with interchangeable parts. Though he supposedly loves her so, what he does in effect, is dehumanize her for the sake of his own personal redemption.
The song “Eyes Without a Face” uses similar imagery for effect. However, he tackles the concept of the modern romance and uses the same metaphors the movie used to show the absence of humanity and how cold and callous the modern world has grown to be. All that we (in the song’s case “we” have the role of the narrator) have endured getting here has made us like the doctor. While the daughter has become eyes without a face (she wears a mask a la Halloween’s Michael Myers and the only visible part of her face are her eyes), the doctor has become a face without eyes. He has blinded himself to the hideousness that he has involved himself, his family, and his poor victims in.
While the woman in the relationship in the Billy Idol song is “Eyes Without a Face,” the narrator has become the face without the eyes. Wrapped in guilt for what once was a perfect love, he must face his own pettiness and the fact that he has forever altered his partner and their relationship.
In a retrospective review of the single, AllMusic journalist Donald A. Guarisco praised the song and wrote: “The music plays against the dark tone of the lyrics with a ballad-styled melody comprised of yearning verses that slowly build emotion and a quietly wrenching chorus that relieves the emotional tension in a cathartic manner.”
FUN FACT: (Well, maybe not so fun): Idol’s memories of the music video are painful ones. The video was directed by David Mallet. Set in a hellish netherworld, the video begins with a verse-long shot of Idol’s face, which appears to be disembodied, illuminated by flames, and floating out of the dark towards the viewer. The second verse focuses on Idol having a violent fit while lying on his back and partially submerged in a shroud of white smoke. During the song’s bridge, the scene changes to Steve Stevens soloing on guitar while Idol poses dancing in a flaming hexagon surrounded by hooded acolytes. The video’s highly aggressive imagery, illustrated with sets that are accented by flame, shadow, and smoke, contrasts strongly with the relative slowness and restraint of the song.
The video was released in June 1984 and subsequently nominated for MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Editing” and “Best Cinematography”. It was shot over an exhausting three-day period on a set with fog machines, lighting, and fire sources. Immediately after the shoot, Idol flew to perform in Arizona, where he discovered that his contact lenses had fused to his eyeballs, attributing this to the harsh video shoot and dry plane air. He was taken to a hospital where the lenses were removed, his eyes bandaged for three days, and his scraped corneas grew back.
Face to Face by Gary Barlow with Elton John – This song finds Gary Barlow collaborating with Sir Elton John. It was released in the United Kingdom in January 2014 as the second single from his fourth solo album, Since I Saw You Last (2013).
The Take That star told MTV UK how he nabbed the Rocket Man for this duet. “I’ve been friends with Elton for quite a few years, probably 20 years actually, we’ve done stuff on stage together before but never on a record,” Barlow stated. “I’ve been looking for an excuse to do this song for years and years and I came up with ‘Face To Face’ at the end of last year.”
He continued: “I sent it to him and within like an hour, he called me back and said, ‘let’s do it, let’s go!’ So we went into Abbey Road for three hours one Monday afternoon and not only did we record the song but we shot the video at the same time.”
Following the commercial failure of Barlow’s second solo album, Twelve Months, Eleven Days, he was dropped from his label and deserted by former friends and colleagues. Elton was one of the few that stuck with him during his wilderness years and this glammy stomper song is a thank-you to the singer for sticking by him as well as a poke at those who treated like a pariah. “It’s a respect song,” Barlow told The Daily Telegraph. “I can count on the fingers of one hand the people who kept in touch with me when nobody else wanted to know me and he was one of them. I’ll never forget that.”
Before this, Gary Barlow first collaborated with Elton John in 1994 when he sang backup along with Kiki Dee and Rick Astley on the Your Song singer’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.”
Sea of Smiling Faces by The Bee Gees – This song is on the To Whom It May Concern album by the Bee Gees. Released in October 1972, it was the follow-up, and continued the melancholic and personal sound of its predecessor Trafalgar. The album was recognized as “a farewell to the old Bee Gees” as the album marked the end of an era for the group in several ways: it was their last album to be recorded solely at IBC Studios, in London, their last with conductor and arranger Bill Shepherd who had guided them since 1967, and their last under their first contract with Robert Stigwood. Some of the songs were old ones finished up or rewritten for the occasion (in the case of “I Can Bring Love”). To Whom It May Concern has sold approximately 350,000 copies worldwide.
Your Smiling Face by James Taylor – “Your Smiling Face” is a hit single by singer James Taylor. First available on the album JT, and released as the album’s sophomore single in September 1977, “Your Smiling Face” peaked at number 11 in Cash Box magazine and at 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 near year’s end. It reached number 11 on the RPM Top Singles chart in Canada. On Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, it reached number 6.
Lines like “Isn’t it amazing a man like me can feel this way?” reflect Taylor’s surprise at his newfound happiness in his relationship with Carly Simon. This song, in which he lights up at the sight of a loved one, is definitely one of Taylor’s classics. At the time, he was married to Carly Simon, the obvious inspiration. Long after their 1983 divorce he told Charlie Rose: “It’s a celebration. A happy love song with a lot of energy to it.”
Taylor credits the piano player on the song, Clarence McDonald, for being a big part of the song’s success. When Taylor ran through the song, McDonald noticed a section with no vocals, which he filled with a little riff that Taylor called “that happy Munchkin song.”
Rolling Stone critic Peter Herbst described it as being “unabashedly happy”. However, according to Taylor biographer Timothy White, the song was written for Taylor’s and Simon’s then three-year-old daughter Sally, which differs from the most widely held belief. Taylor described his song as a “good, light-hearted pop love song.” Herbst praises Taylor’s vocal for being “a pretty convincing rock singer” on the song.
FUN FACT: “Your Smiling Face” was a fixture in Taylor’s live shows, but he had to abandon it for a while because he went through a period where he had difficulty reaching the falsetto notes.
Can’t Feel My Face by Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” is a song performed by Canadian singer The Weeknd from his second studio album Beauty Behind the Madness (2015). Critics lauded “Can’t Feel My Face”, comparing the sound of the song to the works of Michael Jackson; Rolling Stone ranked it as the best song of 2015. It was also nominated for two Grammy Awards: Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. The song experienced commercial success, peaking at number one on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian Hot 100. The single has also peaked at number one in New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland and South Africa, and was a top 10 single in other territories, such as Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.
This song finds Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye describing a passionate affair with a woman that he knows is no good for him, but is enjoying too much to stop. His lyrics describing the numbing sensation of being in love are crooned over pop synths courtesy of Swedish pop songwriter Max Martin, who has previously worked with the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
“I can’t feel my face” is a line from the 2001 movie Blow; Bobcat Goldthwait’s character says it after taking a bump of cocaine. (Blow is a pretty decent film starring Johnny Depp with a great soundtrack that I bought when it came out).
This led to rumors that the song is about cocaine, and there is ample evidence to back up the theory, as The Weeknd is clearly out of sorts over something that he knows isn’t good for him, but he can’t resist. Musically, the song is rather unpredictable, simulating the erratic feeling the drug induces.
The Weeknd goes through a range of emotions as this song progresses to the chorus. In the verses, he seems to have made peace with this relationship (“And she’ll always get the best of me the worst is yet to come”). In the pre-chorus, however, he is drawn back in, as she tells him not to worry, that she’s in this with him. Finally, he reaches the agony and the ecstasy of the chorus, where he can’t feel his face.
FUN FACT: Abel Tesfaye debuted the song at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech in San Francisco on June 8, 2015. The R&B singer took to the stage after it had been announced that Apple would be launching a new streaming service, called Apple Music, later that month.
God Put a Smile Upon Your Face by Coldplay – “God Put a Smile upon Your Face” is a song by British rock band Coldplay. It was written by all members of the band for their second studio album, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002). The song is built around prominent acoustic and electric guitar riffs with accompanying up-tempo drumming. The song was released on July 14, 2003 as the fourth and final single from the album.
Coldplay vocalist Chris Martin said, about the writing of the song, “That came out of playing live and wanting to have something with a bit more bounce. We were really getting into things like PJ Harvey and Muse – things with a bit more energy.”
When asked about the development of the song, during a track-by-track reveal, bassist Guy Berryman said:
When we came to record it in the studio we struggled because there was something just not quite right about it and I wasn’t happy about where we’d left it and where we were happy to leave it and we couldn’t put our finger on what it was and so it was a really nice day one day, me and Chris were just trying, I was actually just trying to record bass at the time and me and Chris were just sitting down trying to brainstorm it and work out what was wrong and so I started trying to just do a few different bass lines and stuff. Between the two of us we came up with just this kind of groove, which stays on the same note as opposed to change, it’s quite technical but it kind of added a bit of bounce to the song and it made it roll along in a much more fluid way. It was a bit mechanical before and it’s just interesting how something small like that can really change the whole vibe of a song. It was just nice because from there on it was one of our favorite tracks and it almost didn’t get on the record but it’s now one of our favorite tracks.
The video for this song is quite disturbing. A businessman notices that his hands start to slowly disappear. He runs through the city streets in a panic and eventually collapses on the sidewalk alone. As the song ends, the man disappears completely and his clothes fall limp on the ground.
Face to Face by Daft Punk – “Face to Face” is a song by French electronic music duo Daft Punk, featuring vocals and co-production by American house music producer Todd Edwards. It was released as the fifth single from their 2001 album Discovery.
As part of Discovery, the song appears in the film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, and the section of the film in which the song appears serves as its music video. The song topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in 2004.
If you watch the playlist video, it’s a cool little production. I’m not a sci-fi/fantasy fan so I wasn’t familiar with the song or the movie from which the music video was derived but I found it to be pretty cool. Here’s some background on that:
“Face to Face” is featured in the 2003 animated film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, which acts as a visual realization of Discovery. The film was directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi under the visual supervision of Leiji Matsumoto. The “Face to Face” segment follows the aftermath of the extraterrestrial pop band The Crescendolls seemingly subduing the villain, Earl de Darkwood, at his Manor. Construction crews unearth the space vessel that had been piloted by Shep; he had rescued the band from enslavement and brainwashing by Darkwood, who had taken on the guise being of their manager. Police investigate the Record company the band had been signed to, and search every part of Darkwood Manor. A news report depicts montage scenes of an operation to send The Crescendolls back to their home planet using Shep’s ship. The report also explains the situation and shows that The Crescendolls were not the only group to have this happen to them. One of the band members, Octave is shown in a hospital having recovered from an earlier altercation with security guards at the Record company. As the band prepares to leave Earth, people wave goodbye to the band from all over the world.
Face to Face by Alabama – “Face to Face” is a song written by Randy Owen and recorded by American country music group Alabama. It was released in December 1987 as the second single from the album Just Us. “Face to Face” featured K.T. Oslin on guest vocals, although she was not credited, and was Alabama’s twenty-second number one on the country chart. The single went to number one for one week and spent fifteen weeks on the country chart.
FUN FACT: “Face to Face” is the only single released by Alabama to feature a female vocalist.
Shadow Face by Hank Williams, Jr – This is a good story song about being the son of the late great Hank Williams. It is from Born to Boogie, a studio album by Hank Williams, Jr. Released by Warner Bros. Records in July 1987, the album reached #1 on the Top Country Albums chart. Born to Boogie also won the Country Music Association Album of the Year award in 1988 and the title track earned Williams nominations for the ACM Top Male Vocalist, the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year and the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack – “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. Billboard ranked it as the number one Hot 100 single of the year for 1972.
“The First Time Ever…” was indeed the breakout hit for Roberta Flack. How it all came about for her:
Flack knew the song from the Joe & Eddie version which appeared on that folk duo’s 1963 album Coast to Coast (as “The First Time”) after her singer friend Donal Leace brought it to her attention. Having taught the song to the young girls in the glee club at Banneker High School (Washington D.C.), Flack would regularly perform “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in her set-list at the Pennsylvania Avenue club Mr Henry’s where Flack was hired as resident singer in 1968. In February 1969 Flack would record the song for her debut album First Take, her rendition of which was much slower paced than Seeger’s original (Flack’s take ran more than twice the two and a half minute length of Seeger’s). Flack would recall that while she made her studio recording of “The First Time…” she felt the loss of her pet cat; two days earlier she returned home to Washington D. C. from Detroit (where she had played her first non-local engagement) to find that her cat had passed away.
FUN FACT: Flack’s slow and sensual version was used by Clint Eastwood in his 1971 directorial film debut of Play Misty for Me to score a love scene featuring Eastwood and actress Donna Mills. Flack would recall how Eastwood, who had heard her version of “The First Time…” on his car radio while driving down the LA Freeway, phoned out of the blue to her Alexandria (Virginia) home: (Roberta Flack quote:)”[Eastwood said:] ‘I’d like to use your song in this movie…about a disc jockey [with] a lot of music in it. I’d use it in the only part of the movie where there’s absolute love.’ I said okay. We discussed the money.[Eastwood would pay $2000 to use Flack’s “The First Time…”] He said: ‘Anything else?’ And I said: ‘I want to do it over again. It’s too slow.’ He said: “No, its not.'”
After the Play Misty for Me film came out in 1971, the attention that Roberta Flack’s song garnered persuaded Atlantic Records to issue “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” as a single – trimmed by a minute – in February 1972. The track became a smash hit single in the United States, reaching No. 1 for six weeks on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts in the spring of 1972, with a No. 4 R&B chart peak. It reached No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart, and was No. 1 for three weeks on the singles chart in Canada’s RPM magazine.
Did you ever see this fabulous Clint Eastwood movie? I’m a huge movie buff and this one is a classic so I’m going to plug it here. Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut. Jessica Walter and Donna Mills co-star. The original music score was composed by Dee Barton. In the film, Eastwood plays the role of a radio disc jockey being stalked by an obsessed female fan.
The film was a critical and financial success, with Walter earning praise for her first major film role.
ANOTHER FUN FACT: Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was also played as the wake-up music on flight day 9 to the astronauts aboard Apollo 17, on their last day in Lunar orbit (Friday, 12/15/1972) before returning to earth, thus ending the first manned explorations of the Moon. The use of the song was most likely a reference to the “face” of the moon below the spacecraft.
Face in the Photograph by Yanni – Yanni was born November 14, 1954 in Kalamata, Greece. He displayed musical talent at a young age, playing the piano at the age of 6. His parents encouraged him to learn at his own pace and in his own way, without formal music training. The self-taught musician continues to use the “musical shorthand” that he developed as a child, rather than employing traditional musical notation.
He blends jazz, classical, soft rock, and world music to create predominantly instrumental works. Although this genre of music was not well suited for commercial pop radio and music television, Yanni received international recognition by producing concerts at historic monuments and by producing videos that were broadcast on public television. His breakthrough concert, Live at the Acropolis, yielded the second best-selling music concert video of all time.
At least sixteen of Yanni’s albums have peaked at No. 1 in Billboard’s “Top New Age Album” category, and two albums (Dare to Dream and In My Time) received Grammy Award nominations.
Yanni popularized the combination of electronic music synthesizers with a full scale symphony orchestra. He has employed musicians of various nationalities and has incorporated a variety of exotic instruments to create music that has been called an eclectic fusion of ethnic sounds. Influenced by his encounters with cultures around the world, Yanni has been called a “true global artist” and his music is said to reflect his “one world, one people” philosophy.
And a FACE playlist just wouldn’t be complete without including this classic hit:
Put On a Happy Face by Tony Bennett & James Taylor duet – “Put On A Happy Face” is a popular song with lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Strouse. It was introduced by Dick Van Dyke in the 1963 musical Bye Bye Birdie. This duet is featured on Tony Bennett’s 2006 album Duets: An American Classic.
I’ll end this post with a clip of the iconic Dick Van Dyke singing “Put On a Happy Face” to the incomparable Janet Leigh in the movie Bye Bye Birdie:
That’s a wrap! Tell me, what are your favorite FACE songs? What songs would you include that aren’t in this playlist? Feel free to post the video of your favorite face song in your comment below. As always, thanks for checking out my 4M post today and I hope you’ll come back for the rest of the Rock & Roll Head to Toe body parts songs series (future installments will be on the freebie weeks each month).
And don’t forget: Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and Colette of Jamerican Spice and Alana of Ramblin’ with AM. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below: