Thursday, July 20, 2006

MP3: Song inspired by a Poem about a Song - Don Mclean & Roberta Flack



If you're waiting for it, I apologise for my slowness in getting the second part of the Manics discography done. It is on its way (except it tomorrow), but its taking a little while due to there being lots of stuff to go through, and due it to it being far too hot to concentrate on anything for more than about 10 minutes.

Here's a nice story about how two of the greatest pop songs of all time were written. In 1970, the poet Lori Lierberman went to see a then unknown Don Mclean performing in a New York folk cafe. She was so inspired by his song Empty Chairs that she wrote a poem named Killing Me Softly With His Song. It was then adapted by songwriters Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel (also the creators of the theme tunes for Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley and many other shows), only for Lieberman to record and release their version of the song. However it only became a big hit when it was covered by Roberta Flack in 1973, reaching number one on the Billboard charts.

Rather amusingly, Wikipedia reports that: 'When Roberta Flack was awarded a gold record for her 1973, number one hit, "Killing Me Softly With His Song", she wanted to listen to her song etched in gold. She removed the disc from its frame and placed it on a turntable, only to hear "Come Softly to Me" by The Fleetwoods.'

The song has also been recorded by artists like Tori Amos, Eva Cassidy, Perry Como, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Toni Braxton, Alicia Keys, and Shirley Bassey, and was obviously also retooled as a hit for The Fugees, which led to the release of a successful remix of the Roberta Flack version.

So here we are. The best version of the song, by Flack, and the song that started the whole thing off, Don Mclean's Empty Chairs, taken from his stunning 1971 breakthrough American Pie. Wow. I'm surprised I got through all of that. Enjoy.

Don Mclean - Empty Chairs - MP3
Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly With His Song - MP3

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