While not the original version of this song, Fugees (featuring Lauryn Hill) does a solid version of “Killing Me Softly With His Song”. While featured on their album, The Score, this song not only conveys musicality but lyricism as well through its poetic lines.
The song presents the story of a woman who has heard a lot about a musician so she goes and sees him. The musician sings a song which she feels very deeply connected to. The lines “strumming my pain with his fingers/ Singing my life with his words” use the guitar as a metaphor for her pain as she watched this boy sing. The boy’s song “tugs on her heart strings” as some like to say. This metaphor establishes a spiritual connection between the woman and the boy’s playing. It exemplifies how music can deeply affect people and songs can resonate with people differently. The lines “Killing me softly with his song/ Telling my whole life with his words” also connects to this theme. She is being “killed” by his song because she resonates with it so much that it is bringing up feelings from the past that she doesn’t want to experience again and are causing her pain. The line “I felt he found my letters and read each one out loud” enforces how even though she had never met the musician and vice versa they had experienced something similar and he had sung about it and so she feels exposed and as though he knows her internal thoughts and feelings. All of this contributes to a deeper meaning of being so touched by something that it physically hurts. Additionally, it conveys the message that art can be used to communicate things that are difficult to speak about and share stories.
Because “Killing Me Softly With His Song” has a deeper meaning, striking lyrics, and uses literary devices, I would argue that it is poetry. However, ultimately I think that art is up for interpretation.
4 thoughts on “Killing Me Softly With His Poetry”
I have not heard this song in such a long time and now I want to listen to it again. I love the way you explained the deeper meaning behind “killed” and also the physical side of the song.
Amazing defense of poetry bringing up the metaphors used of the artist the speaker is seeing to convey the way he contributes to her emotions.
Lauren Hill’s voice in this song demonstrates even more pain and emotion. You really can feel her anguish in her voice which makes this song even better in its performance.
I think you explained the killing metaphor really well and how being confronted with personal messages can be really painful.