Killing Me Softly

in Deep Dives2 months ago

"Killing me softly with his song" is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The origin story of this song however, is the topic of many online debates I've seen throughout the years, and these debates are mostly hilarious but also say a lot about the zeitgeist of our current era...


source: YouTube

You see, some of these debates consist of two camps who argue among each other whether the song was originally sung by Frank Sinatra or Perry Como; I'll link a YouTube video of the Como rendition first in this post, but you'll quickly notice that it was uploaded as a Frank Sinatra song. Sinatra never covered this song however, although I must say that in my non-trained ears the voices of Sinatra and Como can easily be confused for each other, they sound very much alike. Como covered the song in 1973 as "Killing me softly with her song", but it wasn't his song...

Then Roberta Flack recorded her version, with the correct title, in 1973; that version became a hit single all over the world, but she also wasn't the one who wrote the brilliant lyrics or composed the beautiful music. No, it was Lori Lieberman who, as a 19 year young woman, visited a Don McLean concert in late 1971 and became inspired to scribble the words to "Killing me softly with his song" on a napkin when McLean performed his song "Empty Chairs". So, the "he" in the title is Don McLean, and "his song" is "Empty Chairs". Lori Lieberman was under management by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel; the former wrote the music, and the latter is credited with the lyrics... The truth is that Gimbel only made minor changes in the words Lieberman scribbled on that napkin. She titled the song "Killing me softly with his blues", and Gimbel changed "blues" to "song"... Lori Lieberman gives a brief account of the birth of this world famous song here.

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

Frank Sinatra-Killing me softly

Below this post you'll find the original version by Lori Lieberman, and I think you'll agree with me that her version exhumes way more passion and sincerity than any of the covers that followed since, be it by Perry Como, Roberta Flack or even the 1990s version by the hip-hop group Fugees. And now you know where that passion originates; Lieberman was actually struck by the music and lyrics performed by Don McLean as an adolescent women in 1971. And besides that, her voice is angelic to my ears.

Believe it or not, I got to thinking about all this by seeing the news about Trump's leaked telephone call in which he tried to virtually blackmail a Georgia state election official into "finding" the votes he needs to overturn the already confirmed election results. You see, what we're witnessing here is the soft killing of American democracy. Nothing will come from this sad attempt; and that's the problem. I'm afraid that Trump and the Republican officials who will support Trump on January 6th will all get away with this blatant and open attempt at a coupe. America doesn't have much of a democracy to begin with, and this time all signs are that it will survive this kind of maffia-esque behavior this time around. But if Trump and his sycophants aren't held accountable in some form, they'll keep trying, they'll keep pushing forward to see just how much they can get away with. If American democracy was a lady, like the Statue of Liberty or the blindfolded Lady Justice, "Killing me softly" would be the words going around in her mind while slowly suffocating, as the hands of authoritarianism tighten their grip around her neck...

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Also, the debates around the origin of this song are emblematic of the lack of truth, or disinterest in truth of our times. This also links back to Trump, Trump supporters and Trumpism; these are all phenomena birth from this growing disinterest in truth or factual information. If you can make people believe the absurd, these people will follow you anywhere. And they are the ones who are responsible for supporting this kind of authoritarianism, while screaming that their votes and liberty are stolen from them. Absurd and dangerous...

Anyhow, let's leave politics aside for now and just enjoy this timeless evergreen together. If you're too young to have ever heard this song, I especially encourage you to listen to this poem set to music; it's calming like a river flowing in the night, with a bright moon in the sky, and maybe that's just what we need...

"Killing Me Softly with His Song" (1972) ♫ Lori Lieberman

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If you can make people believe the absurd, these people will follow you anywhere.

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