Monday, May 21, 2012

Song #195 of 9999 - Killing Me Softly With His Song by Roberta Flack

Song #195 of 9999

Title: Killing Me Softly With His Song
Artist: Roberta Flack
Year: 1973
Album: Killing My Softly

Nineteen seventy-three is such a great year for music, I decided to start here just so I wouldn't run out of days and overlook this song. I'm betting there are at least a few people who think this song originated with The Fugees and I'd like them to know there once was a version that didn't have some jackass counting "one time....two times" in the background.

In fact, Roberta Flack's version of "Killing Me Softly With His Song" is actually a cover. The singer who originated the song, Lori Leiberman (her recording can be heard here), also claims to have written the poem that became the basis of the lyric. This claim is disputed by the credited songwriters Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox.

Regardless, it is Roberta Flack's version which topped the charts in 1973, earning the Grammy for Record of the Year. Flack's rendition sounds a bit dated in terms of the arrangement—Rhodes piano and slow-jam rhythm section—but her plaintive vocal track still resonates today. Flack supposes that her version was successful because she "changed parts of the chord structure and chose to end on a major chord." I'm not sure this is the major coup she thinks it is as the songs still have identical chord structure, but I'm glad she drew my attention to the interesting chord structure with the key of Bb Minor (natural version) obscured by a number of major chords strewn throughout. And indeed, the piece does come to a close on F Major, a half-cadence in the key of the tonic, while all other occurrences of the V chord appear as F minor (v).

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