It’s Friday, which means it’s time to dust of a classic track and throw in a modern interpretation. Except this time the interpretation is a classic in it’s own right. And even the first famous version is a cover version…
In 1973 Roberta Flack flack released “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and it (rightfully) took the Grammy for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Female Performer and also took the Song of the Year Grammy. So suffice to say it was a big song.
22 Years later, a group called the Fugees covered the song with Lauryn Hill providing the lead vocal and their version went on to become of the biggest songs of the next two years and some might say of all time. It was featured on their seminal album “The Score.”
In my opinion, this a strong contender for “Best Song Of The 90s.” Listening to this track has a way of making me feel good.
One of the things I about this song is the story behind it. Here are a few words from Norm Gimbel, the songwriter, on the genesis of the song.
“I came to California in the mid-sixties. I was introduced to the Argentinean born composer named Lalo Schifrin (then of Mission: Impossible fame). I ended up writing songs to a number of his motion pictures. I suggested we write a Broadway Musical together. He gave me an Argentinean novel translated into English from the Spanish to read as a possible idea. Suffice it to say, we never made a musical from the book — but in one of the chapters, the principal character describes himself as sitting alone in a bar drinking and listening to an American pianist ‘killing me softly with his blues.’ I put it in my ‘idea’ book for use at a future time with a parenthesis around the word ‘blues’ and substituted the word ‘song’ instead. Many years later, Lori Lieberman saw Don McLean in concert. I then wrote the lyric and gave it to Charles Fox to set to music.”
Roberta Flack first heard “Killing Me Softly With His Song” on a flight from Los Angeles to New York City on which the Lori Lieberman original was featured on the in-flight audio program: scanning the listing of available audio selections, Flack would recall: “The title, of course, smacked me in the face. I immediately pulled out some scratch paper, made musical staves [then] play[ed] the song at least eight to ten times jotting down the melody that I heard…. When I landed, I immediately called Quincy [Jones] .
As hard as it may be to believe, the original is actually a country version, performed by Lori Lieberman.