Roberta Flack – Killing Me Softly With His Song

Roberta Flack – Killing Me Softly With His Song

 

 

“Killing Me Softly With His Song”

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him
To listen for a while
And there he was this young boy
A stranger to my eyes
Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his songI felt all flushed with fever
Embarassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right on

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

He sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me
As if I wasn’t there
And he just kept on singing
Singing clear and strong

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

[Break]

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me

He was strumming my pain
Yeah, he was singing my life
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song

****
Songfacts
  • This was written by the songwriting team of Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, and first recorded by Lori Lieberman in 1972. The story goes that the song was inspired by Don McLean, a singer/songwriter famous for his hit “American Pie.” After being mesmerized by one of his concerts at the Troubadour theater in Los Angeles – and in particular McLean’s song “Empty Chairs” – Lieberman described what she saw of McLean’s performance to Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, who were writing songs for her new album, and they wrote the song for her.The story is wrong. When we spoke with Charles Fox, he explained: “I think it’s called an urban legend. It really didn’t happen that way. Norman Gimbel and I wrote that song for a young artist whose name was Lori Lieberman. Norman had a book that he would put titles of songs, song ideas and lyrics or something that struck him at different times. And he pulled out the book and he was looking through it, and he says, ‘Hey, what about a song title, ‘Killing Me Softly With His Blues’?’ Well, the ‘killing me softly’ part sounded very interesting, ‘with his blues’ sounded old fashioned in 1972 when we wrote it. So he thought for a while and he said, ‘What about ‘killing me softly with his song’? That has a unique twist to it.’ So we discussed what it could be, and obviously it’s about a song – listening to the song and being moved by the words. It’s like the words are speaking to what that person’s life is. Anyway, Norman went home and wrote an extraordinary lyric and called me later in the afternoon. I jotted it down over the phone. I sat down and the music just flowed right along with the words. And we got together the next morning and made a couple of adjustments with it and we played it for Lori, and she loved it, she said it reminds her of being at a Don McLean concert. So in her act, when she would appear, she would say that. And somehow the words got changed around so that we wrote it based on Don McLean, and even Don McLean I think has it on his Web site. But he doesn’t know. You know, he only knows what the legend is.”
  • Gimbel and Fox also wrote the theme songs to the TV shows Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. They are the only credited songwriters on “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” but Lori Leiberman has claimed authorship. A press release put out on Lieberman’s behalf states: “Lieberman to this day is never given credit for lyrics and her version. McLean said he had no idea the song was about him. ‘Someone called me and said a song had been written about me and it was #1,’ McLean recalled. ‘It was an honor and a delight, and I give Lieberman the credit. My songs have always come from my personal thoughts and experiences, so it’s overwhelming when someone is moved and touched by them like Lori was.'”
  • Flack heard Lieberman’s version on an in-flight tape recorder while flying from Los Angeles to New York. She loved the title and lyrics and decided to record it herself. In an interview with The New Musical Express, Flack said: “I was flicking through the in-flight magazine to see if they’d done an article on me. After realizing they hadn’t, I saw this picture of a little girl called Lori Lieberman. I’d never heard of her before so I read it with interest to see what she had that I didn’t.” Flack decided to record the song but felt it wasn’t complete, so on arriving in New York she went into the studio and started experimenting. She changed the chord structure and ended the song with a major rather than minor chord. Flack worked on the song in the studio for 3 months, playing around with various chord structures until she got it just right.
  • Talking about the first time he heard from Roberta Flack, Charles Fox told us: “Quincy (Jones) gave her my number. I was at Paramount Pictures one day walking through the music library, and someone handed me a telephone and said, ‘This is for you.’ And the voice on the other end of the line said, ‘Hi, this is Roberta Flack. We haven’t met, but I’m going to sing your songs.’ So it was kind of magical at that – that thing just doesn’t happen to people. She had just won the Grammy Award for ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’ Beautiful record. So it’s kind of remarkable to get a call from her in the first place. And she did go on to sing other songs. And actually, she sang on the main title for me of a show that was called Valerie after Valerie Harper.”
  • This won Grammys in 1974 for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal. Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won Record of the Year the previous year, making her the first artist to win the award 2 consecutive years. (thanks, Bertrand – Paris, France)
  • This was a US and UK #1 hit for Fugees in 1996. They did a Hip-hop version featuring the vocals of Lauryn Hill. The Fugees wanted to change the lyrics and make it a song about poverty and drug abuse in the inner city with the title “Killing Him Softly,” but Gimbel and Fox refused.
  • Toni Collette, Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult performed this in the film About A Boy. (thanks, Bertrand – Paris, France)
  • The singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat was first inspired to start singing when she heard the Fugees version of “Killing Me Softly” at the age of 11.
  • The Fugees version is a popular Karaoke choice, but usually not a good one. Kimberly Starling of The Karaoke Informer says: “With a minimal background track virtually every girl loses the melody. They all think they sound great on this one, yet they do not.”
  • The song was covered by Leah McFall on the UK edition of The Voice in 2013. Her version landed at #36 on the British singles chart after she sung it in the semi-finals.
Source:
songfacts.com

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