♫ 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

♫ Where Is The Love ♫

Tonight, I was going to play Midnight at the Oasis … until I realized that I had played it not once, but twice in just over a year already, and it didn’t go over all that well last time I played it.  So as I listened to the song, I scrolled down the YouTube suggestions on the right of my screen, and hit upon this song, originally by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway.  

This was written by percussionist Ralph MacDonald and bass player William Salter. They wrote the song hoping The 5th Dimension would record it, but MacDonald was working on the session for the Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway album, and when they needed one more song, he offered it to them.

Flack and Hathaway were good friends who both attended Howard University. Their first collaboration was a cover of Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend. This led to an entire album of duets, which contained this hit.  Six years later, Flack and Hathaway teamed up again for The Closer I Get To You, which hit #2 in the US. Flack also recorded successful duets with Peabo Bryson (Tonight, I Celebrate My Love) and Maxi Priest (Set The Night To Music).

The song won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.  It charted at #1 in the U.S., #29 in the UK, and #35 in Canada.  It has been covered by numerous people, including Helen Reddy, but the one I find I liked best, after Flack & Hathaway’s version of course, is the one by Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’77, so I am including that one here as well.

Where Is the Love
Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack

Where is the love?
You said, was mine, all mine
Till the end of time
Was it just a lie?


Where is the love?
If you had, had a sudden change of heart
I wish that you would tell me so
Don’t leave me hangin’ on the promises


You’ve got to let me know
Oh, how I wish, I never met you
I guess, it must have been my fate
To fall in love with someone else’s love
All I can do is wait
That’s all I can do, yeah yeah


Where is the love? (Where is the love?)
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)


Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Mac Donald Ralph / Salter William
Where Is the Love lyrics © Universal Music – Z Tunes Llc, Reservoir 416, Tennman Tunes, Bmg Ruby Songs, Printz Polar Publishing, Songs Of Universal Inc., Antisia Music Inc

♫ The Closer I Get To You ♫

I was washing dishes this afternoon (no, they haven’t fixed the #@$% dishwasher yet!) when this song popped unbidden into my head.  I hummed it for a while, sang a bit of it (no doubt with the wrong lyrics, but hey … at least the cats didn’t start howling as they sometimes do when I belt out a tune!)  Then it left my head, to be replaced with other ‘stuff’ such as laundry, the Electoral College, supper preparation, writing an a.m. post, and more.  But then, this evening as I put the finishing touches on my morning post, it popped back into my head once again and I took that as a sign that I ought to play it here! 

According to SongFacts …

“In 1972, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, who were good friends from their days at Howard University, recorded an album of duets containing the hit “Where Is The Love”. Five years later, they reunited for this track, which is a much happier tale of a couple falling in love. 

This song was not conceived as a duet. It was written by Reggie Lucas and James Mtume, who were members of Flack’s touring band and played on Blue Lights in the Basement. They wrote the song between tours, and during the sessions for the album brought the song to Flack’s producer Joe Ferla, who played it for Flack. Her manager David Franklin also worked with Hathaway, and decided to bring him in and turn the song into a duet. Hathaway suffered from severe bouts of depression, and hadn’t worked with Flack in years. He was hospitalized at the time, and the producers had to get permission from the hospital to fly him out and come to the sessions. Hathaway died in 1979 of an apparent suicide.”

Following Hathaway’s death, Roberta Flack told Jet magazine …

“I tried to reach out to Donny. That’s how we managed to do the song we did last year. I felt this need because I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t save him, I knew he was sick. But I knew when he sat down at that piano and sang for me it was like it was eight or nine years ago because he sang and played his ass off.”

Flack announced that The Closer I Get to You would forever be a dedication to Hathaway, and that all money made from the song would be donated to Hathaway’s widow and two children.  And on that sad note, let’s just listen to the music …

The Closer I Get to You
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

The closer I get to you
The more you make me see
By giving me all you got
Your love has captured me

Over and over again
I tried to tell myself that we
Could never be more than friends
And all the while inside I knew it was real
The way you make me feel

Lying here next to you
Time just seems to fly
Needing you more and more
Lets give love a try (oh, oh, oh)

Sweeter than sweeter love grows
And heaven’s there for those
Who fool the tricks of time
With the hearts of love they find true love
In a special way

The closer I get to you
The more you make me see
By giving me all you got
Your love has captured me

Over and over again
I try to tell myself that we
Could never be more than friends
And all the while inside I knew it was real
The way you make me feel

The closer I get to you
The more you make me see
By giving you all I got
Your love has captured me

The closer I get to you
The feeling comes over me (me too)
Pulling closer, sweet as the gravity

to you

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: James Mtume / Reggie Lucas
The Closer I Get to You lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ First Time Ever I Saw Your Face ♫ (Redux)

Left drained and exhausted from tonight’s debate, I am once again reduxing a song that I last played in 2018 by Roberta Flack.  I promise some new content tomorrow night … honest!


This was the breakout hit for Roberta Flack; it was #1 in the US for six weeks. Flack had released two solo albums without commercial success, as her blend of jazz and folk styles struggled to find an audience.

British folk singer Ewan MacColl wrote this in 1957 for his lover Peggy Seeger. She was in a play in the U.S. and phoned him for suggestions on a song for a romantic scene. MacColl wrote this on the spot in less than an hour, then taught it to her over the phone to use in her play. MacColl, by the way, had been banned from the U.S. because of his communist past.  His history is really quite interesting.

“We weren’t really getting along at the time.  After all, he was married to someone else then.” – Peggy Seeger

MacColl was married to his second wife, Jean Newlove at the time. He left her for Peggy Seeger and the pair eventually tied the knot in 1977.

MacColl won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, while Flack received a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Like so many of the songs I’ve posted, this one has been recorded by many others, including Peter, Paul & Mary, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Mel Torme, Isaac Hayes, and Gordon Lightfoot.  While I am a big fan of PP&M, I like the Roberta Flack version of this song best.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Roberta Flack

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command my love

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love

The first time ever I saw your face
Your face, your face

Songwriters: Ewan Mccoll
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face lyrics © The Royalty Network Inc.

♫ Tonight, I Celebrate My Love ♫

In a truly black mood tonight, I was fairly certain there would be no song for tomorrow, but still, while engaged in the mindless activity of rolling smokes, I was flipping around through my playlist and all of a sudden … lightning struck!  ⚡  Who put this one on here?  I didn’t recall it being … be still my heart … Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson … what a combination!  What a song!

Tonight, I Celebrate My Love is a romantic ballad written by lyricist Gerry Goffin with Michael Masser and recorded by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack for their 1983 album of duets: Born to Love.

In the UK, the song would peak at number two in September 1983, affording both Bryson and Flack their alltime best UK chart showing. It was afforded further international success charting in Australia (number 10), Canada (number 4), Finland (number 13), Flemish Belgium (number 8), Ireland (number 5), the Netherlands (number 16), New Zealand (number 11), Norway (number 8), and South Africa (number 4).  Interestingly, it did better in all those places than in the U.S., where it only reached #16!

Tonight I Celebrate My Love
Peabo Bryson, Roberta Flack

Tonight I celebrate my love for you
It seems the natural thing to do

Tonight no one’s gonna find us
We’ll leave the world behind us

When I make love to you
Tonight I celebrate my love for you
And hope that deep inside you’ll feel it, too

Tonight our spirits will be climbing
To a sky filled up with diamonds

When I make love to you, tonight
Tonight I celebrate my love for you
And that midnight sun is gonna come shining through

Tonight there’ll be no distance between us
What I want most to do, is to get close to you
Tonight
Tonight I celebrate my love for you
And soon this old world will seem brand new

Tonight we will both discover how friends turn into lovers
When I make love to you
Tonight I celebrate my love for you
And that midnight sun is gonna come shining through

Tonight there’ll be no distance between us
What I want most to do, is to get close to you
Tonight I celebrate my love for you
Tonight

Songwriters: Gerry Goffin / Michael Masser
Tonight I Celebrate My Love lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Killing Me Softly With His Song ♫

I typically prepare these music posts just before going to bed, when my resources are at their lowest, emotions a bit on edge from the news of the day, and so I seem to come up with ‘sappy’ songs more often than not.  Tonight is no exception.

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

♫ First Time Ever I Saw Your Face ♫

This was the breakout hit for Roberta Flack; it was #1 in the US for six weeks. Flack had released two solo albums without commercial success, as her blend of jazz and folk styles struggled to find an audience.

British folk singer Ewan MacColl wrote this in 1957 for his lover Peggy Seeger. She was in a play in the U.S. and phoned him for suggestions on a song for a romantic scene. MacColl wrote this on the spot in less than an hour, then taught it to her over the phone to use in her play. MacColl, by the way, had been banned from the U.S. because of his communist past.  His history is really quite interesting.

“We weren’t really getting along at the time.  After all, he was married to someone else then.” – Peggy Seeger

MacColl was married to his second wife, Jean Newlove at the time. He left her for Peggy Seeger and the pair eventually tied the knot in 1977.

MacColl won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, while Flack received a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Like so many of the songs I’ve posted, this one has been recorded by many others, including Peter, Paul & Mary, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Mel Torme, Isaac Hayes, and Gordon Lightfoot.  While I am a big fan of PP&M, I like the Roberta Flack version of this song best.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Roberta Flack

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command my love

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love

The first time ever I saw your face
Your face, your face

Songwriters: Ewan Mccoll
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face lyrics © The Royalty Network Inc.