♫ Killing Me Softly With His Song ♫ (Redux)

It wasn’t my intention to redux again tonight, but this song crossed my path earlier this evening and decided it would stay and visit the inside of my head for a few hours.  By the time I sat down to do my music post, every song I looked at sounded exactly like Killing Me Softly.  Long story short, here it is again, though I did play it just a couple of years ago. 


This was written by the songwriting team of Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, and first recorded by Lori Lieberman in 1972. 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.”  Lieberman also claims that Don McLean of American Pie fame was the inspiration for the song, but Charles Fox denies it.

Roberta 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.  In my opinion, she succeeded.

This song 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.  While I far prefer Roberta Flack’s version to any others, the song was recorded in 1996 by a group called the Fugees, and it was their version that hit the #1 spot in the UK in ’96.  I listened to their version tonight, and admit it is damned good … almost as good as Roberta’s.  They 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.  Thankfully.

Killing Me Softly with His Song
Roberta Flack

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 song

I felt all flushed with fever, embarrassed by the crowd
I felt he’d 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

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 words

Songwriters: Norman GImbel / Charles Fox
Killing Me Softly with His Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

23 thoughts on “♫ Killing Me Softly With His Song ♫ (Redux)

    • Thanks!!! I’m happy you liked it! I did check out the Fugees cover of this and it is good, but I still like Roberta Flack better. As I told John, sometimes I think we always like the version we first heard the best, or perhaps a version by a band that is known to us will always be preferable to one that is little known. Who knows what makes one person like a version better than another? It’s all just a matter of personal preference.

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      • I enjoy both versions, and i have to agree the original is usually best. Roberta Flack sounds like an angel, her voice is unforgettable, this song will always be hers.

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    • Ah well … can’t win ’em all! Having been partly deaf since birth, I was never into loud rock, for it always just sounded like so much noise … annoying noise … to me. I always preferred music I could somewhat understand the words to, could dance or at least sway to. 💃

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  1. Roberta and Lori may have been killed by the songs the young man was singing, but the opposite was true for me. The Guess Who released His Girl in 1966 shortly after Burton Cummings spied me walking down the halls of St. John’s High School with my first real love, Barbara Buffie. I knew he had looked jealously at her, with her long dark hair down to her waist, the most beautiful girl in school. We were thrilled to have them singing our life. https://youtu.be/MrSj7RrA5us
    À year later, The Guess Who? released And She’s Mine, which Barbera and I took to be about us also. (It was only years later I discovered the song was by the forerunner to the Guess Who?, Chad Allen and the Reflections, later known as Chad Allen and the Expressions.) But it was re-released in 1967, so we thought the band was still singing about us. https://youtu.be/3RFU8fuKw0c
    Then, after we broke up, and a terrible break-up it was for me, they released the song that made them international recording artists, These Eyes. Now they were singing just for me. https://youtu.be/FJmYUmrnP0o
    Talk about having your life sung in music. This trilogy, sung by the best band to ever come out of my home town, celebrated my first love affair, and then brought me to tears when it was over. This was my life. (American Woman, their next release, broke the chain.)

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    • Wow, rg!!! It’s almost as if they knew you, knew what was happening in your life. I had not heard the first two songs, but am well familiar with These Eyes and like it. Barbara Buffie, eh? Isn’t it funny how we can remember our first, but cannot remember why we went into the kitchen? My first ‘love’ was Jim Twomy … in hindsight, he was a real jerk, but at the time I thought he was ‘cool’. Thanks for sharing that story and how the Guess Who fit into it! LuL

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      • Barbera went on to be an amazing teacher. She began Gay-Straight Alliances at a couple of schools in Winnipeg long before they became popular. One was at a private shul, I believe it is spelled. Now she lives in California running a retreat for women. We reconnected a few years back on Classmates.com, but if I read her right she no longer goes with men. I know the guy she married and had children with was a battered, for I delivered pizza to her house one day many many years ago in the 70s. She could only talk briefly at the door before he roared what was taking so long. I tried then to reconnect to help her, but she told me to forget she was alive.
        She survived him, so I don’t blame her turning herself against men. She seemed happy now, last contact. I am so glad she found her way.

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        • Funny how the composite of our life’s experiences make us what we are. Thumbs up to Barbara for overcoming adversity, for beating the odds. Sadly, too many women don’t.

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  2. This is one of my all-time faves, thanks so much. And such a wealth of additional info – I love you for that, Jill!!!!
    When this came out, I was living in Canada, young, very young and innocent to a degree one couldn’t believe that it’s possible… So here comes this gorgeous babe and kills me with his song 🙂 Thanks a bunch!

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  3. Jill, she had a melancholy vibe in her voice that lends itself to this song and her other big hit “The first time ever I saw your face.” Great tune by a great artist. Keith

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yes, a good way to start off the weekend! Have any fun plans for the weekend? I hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend! Granddaughter Natasha and I are getting our first Covid vaccine tomorrow, which I’m a bit nervous about, but I’ll be happy to get it over and done! xx

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      • Congratulations for the possibility getting the vaccine, Jill! Here we have to wait again. ;-( But there are not too much people on the ways, so you can keep distance, whenever you want. Just a few hours ago i took my first three hour nap. Lol I think this weekend will be scheduled for kissing the pillow. Lol xx Michael

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        • It is pretty much available here to anyone who wants it … I have been putting it off, in part because I don’t go anywhere anyway, and in part because I am nervous about potential side effects since I have Type I diabetes, a heart condition, and severe asthma. But, my granddaughter convinced me to do it for her, if for no other reason. I’m sorry to hear you are still having trouble getting it! I had thought that by now it would be much more widely available throughout the EU. You be careful and keep safe, my friend. And yes, a weekend hugging the pillow sounds just about perfect! xx

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