About the song

Ah, yes, Killing Me Softly With His Song. This timeless ballad, etched into our musical consciousness by the incomparable Roberta Flack, transcends generations. Released in 1973, it became an instant classic, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart and solidifying Flack’s position as a leading voice in soul and pop music. But Killing Me Softly‘s journey is more intricate than a simple radio hit.

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The song’s origins lie not with Flack, but with folk singer Lori Lieberman. In 1971, Lieberman penned a poetic and introspective piece titled “Killing Me Softly With Her Blues.” It was a deeply personal exploration of a failing relationship, filled with raw vulnerability. However, Lieberman’s recording failed to gain traction.

Enter songwriters Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox. Inspired by Lieberman’s lyrics, they reworked the song, transforming it from a woman’s lament to a more universal reflection on the power of music to evoke profound emotions. The “blues” became a “song,” softening the tone while retaining the core message. This shift, along with Gimbel’s masterful storytelling in the new verses, opened the song up to a wider audience.

Flack, with her stunning vocal range and nuanced phrasing, breathed life into the revised lyrics. Her voice, both powerful and achingly vulnerable, perfectly captures the emotional rollercoaster of being laid bare by a song. Listen closely, and you can hear the initial awe at the singer’s talent, then the rising tide of self-consciousness as the lyrics seem to pierce her soul. The final verse, where the singer is left both exposed and strangely detached as the music continues, is a masterclass in emotional delivery.

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Killing Me Softly With His Song wasn’t just a hit; it was a cultural phenomenon. Flack’s version eclipsed Lieberman’s original, winning two Grammy Awards, including the coveted Record of the Year. The song has been covered countless times by artists across genres, a testament to its enduring appeal. From Fugees’ hip-hop rendition to Laura Branigan’s pop interpretation, the essence of the song – the transformative power of music – continues to resonate.

So, the next time you hear those opening notes, take a moment to appreciate the rich tapestry woven by Killing Me Softly With His Song. It’s a song not just about being moved by music, but about the profound connection that can exist between artist, song, and listener.

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Lyrics

“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 song

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarrassed 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

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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

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)

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