First Time Ever
Born in New York City in 1935, Peggy Seeger enjoyed a childhood steeped in music and politics. Her father was the noted musicologist Charles Seeger; her mother, the modernist composer Ruth Crawford; and her brother Pete, the celebrated writer of protest songs.
After studying at Radcliffe College, in 1955 Peggy left to travel the world. It was in England that she met the man, some two decades older and with a wife and family, with whom she would share the next thirty-three years: the actor, playwright and songwriter Ewan MacColl. Together, Peggy and Ewan helped lay the foundations of the British folk revival, through the formative - and controversial - Critics Group and the landmark BBC Radio Ballads series. And as Ewan's muse, Peggy inspired one of the twentieth century's greatest love songs, 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'.
Peggy's life comprises art and passion, family and separation, tragedy, celebration and the unexpected - and irresistible - force of love. It would by any standards be an extraordinary story, but what elevates her account is the beauty of the writing: it is clear-eyed and playful, luminous and melodic, fearless, funny and always truthful, from the first word to the last.
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There are no sonorous signals of big moments, rather a series of chronological arabesques, which is why this amazing life reads more like a novel [...] [an] elegy for folk music.
An illuminating, witty, revelatory and unflinchingly candid account, presented in vivid vignettes and nonchalant anecdotes, often funny, sometimes shocking.
Folk music and activism tend to come freighted with connotations of earnestness. But Seeger’s writing goes against the stereotype. First Time Ever is funny, incisive, and affecting... Both she and her vigorous autobiography are testament to folk’s tenacity in a modern world that is proving increasingly antithetical to its values
Rugged, occasionally riotous, memoir... Comes with the kind of thorough detail that defines the word "evocative"... Seeger writes with sharp and candid wit, devoid of sentimentality