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Killing Me Softly original

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From the Killing Me Softly original to two hit covers

Composer Charles Fox and lyricist Norman Gimbel wrote “Killing Me Softly with His Song” in collaboration with Lori Lieberman. Lieberman found her inspiration for the song after seeing Don McLean perform at a concert in 1971. She released the “Killing Me Softly” original in 1972, but it didn’t chart. And in later years Fox and Gimbel downplayed her contribution to the song. A year later, Roberta Flack’s Grammy-winning version of “Killing Me Softly” came out. Then in 1996, the Fugees released another hit version of the song.

Spooky Original

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The Spooky original was an instrumental

Thanks to Guy Richie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I discovered the groovy song “Spooky” by Dusty Springfield. Written by Mike Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks Jr, Springfield’s “Spooky” came out in 1970. American band, Classics IV, performed another well-known version of “Spooky” in 1967. However, the “Spooky” original was a saxophone instrumental performed by Shapiro, as Mike Sharpe, released earlier that year.

Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone Original

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Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone Originally About a Bad Dad

Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” in 1971. In the words of Stereogum editor, Tom Breihan, “It’s a song about a piece of shit.” The song is a conversation, sung in alternating lines by siblings asking their mother about their dead father. He wasn’t a great man. Motown recording act the Undisputed Truth released the “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” original in May 1973. The Temptation’s more well-known version came out four months later. However, the song is more about its writer, Whitfield, than either of those bands. His psychedelic soul classic was the forerunner to the extended single and to disco and house music.