"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (ft. Erykah Badu)" by The Flaming Lips
Full disclosure, I don’t have any experience with hard drugs. But I have done more xannies than were ever prescribed to me, so let me just go out on a limb here and say that this particular version of the Roberta Flack classic is druggy. Guitars distorted beyond recognition, hyper-slow bass drum pulses and the random keyboard plunk envelope Erykah Badu’s disembodied, Godly vocals. The song circles and swirls for 10 minutes of agony and ecstasy. Most of the lyrics are lost as wildly melodic garbled warbles but the song’s title always comes through. The whole effect plays straight to my feelings about love - it’s the most painful thing you’ll ever enjoy. Anyway, you should listen to this song because who ever thought Ms. Badu would work with Mr. Coyne? How could their egos have allowed this to come to fruition? The fact that it exists at all is to be cherished.
Okay, lemme get this out of the way from the start: I am not a fan of The Flaming Lips. That said, I don’t dislike them by any means - especially if they’re doing something super-poppy or something super-“confrontational.” Their cover of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” leans toward the latter end of the spectrum, but ends up not really being either, which typically is the sort of thing that makes me “not a fan” of the Flips. But - and this is a big BUT - the bit that allows this song to keep a foot planted firmly in between the band’s extremes is also the bit that makes it. And that’s Erykah Badu’s voice, and MG quite rightly singled out. The washes of sound in this song exist solely to compliment that ethereal singing, and Badu unquestionably sells this cover. So I may not be a fan, but this is the first Flaming Lips song I can see myself coming back to repeatedly since they remixed “Buggin,” and I honestly didn’t expect myself to be won over by it. It feels great to be surprised.
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