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Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music Paperback – September 16, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press (September 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810882213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810882218
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,418,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Fox’s breezy writing style captures a man who seems grateful for his successes and the longevity of his career, and holds few, if any, grudges over the ups and downs of the film and music industries....Hopefully Fox’s smart and charming autobiography will send readers back to their CDs, LPs, DVDs and Nick at Nite to rediscover the work of this underrated composer. (Film Score Monthly)

Charles Fox's Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music is, quite simply, one of the finest composer autobiographies I have ever read. Fox is the Oscar-nominated, Grammy- and Emmy-winning composer of such songs as "Killing Me Softly With His Song" and "I Got a Name"; films including Goodbye Columbus, Foul Play and 9 to 5; and such iconic TV themes as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and The Love Boat. But this is not "And Then I Wrote..." Rather, Fox frames his career with the story of his youthful studies with famed French composition teacher Nadia Boulanger, who also taught Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, Quincy Jones and Michel Legrand. (The Film Music Society)

A fascinating new memoir. (Broadcast Music, Inc.)

A sparkling memoir that details one of the most interesting and successful careers in American music history. (Aol News)

Readers are taken into a world only an insider can share....Fox, a master of both drama and comedy, shares trade secrets simply by telling his story....Killing Me Softly is certainly a volume for both public and school libraries and for general readers with special interest in television and film scores. As this is a memoir and not a movie or TV textbook, one doesn’t need to know musical nor film terminology to follow Fox’s own education in how to merge compositional talent with the eccentricities of media production. After reading this memoir, most readers will find themselves appreciating not only the work of Fox but all those who labor to provide musical beds for the audio-visual arts. Simply stated, this is a book for anyone who loves music as much as Charles Fox himself. (

Television fans may want to pick up Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music by Charles Fox. In his memoir, Fox recounts his life from his formal music education in Paris through his career composing more than 100 movie and television scores, including the themes for 'Happy Days,' 'Love Boat,' and 'Monday Night Football.' (Pasadena Star-News)

Robert Flack's signature song wasn't always called "Killing Me Softly With His Song." Charles Fox originally called it "Killing Me Softly With His Blues." But his songwriting partner, Norman Gimbel, says the word "blues" made it sound too old fashioned. Flack first heard the song on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, where the original version was part of the programmed music on the plane. When she landed, she got Fox's phone number and told him she was going to sing his song. She later inducted him into the Songwriters Hall of Fame." Fox named his new memoir after the song. (Associated Press 2011-09-07)

About the Author

Charles Fox has composed the music for over 100 motion pictures and television films, including the themes for Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Love Boat. One of the most performed composers in the world, he has been nominated for two Academy Awards, has won two Emmys, and received the Best Song Grammy for "Killing Me Softly with His Song."

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Very Merry Shakespeare on September 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Charles Fox is a musician who began his career in Paris. Almost immediately, the reader is brought onto the propeller-driven plane where he and other students would be attending the Conservatoire de Musique. What follows are some wonderful chapters that are the actual letters from Paris that Charles Fox sent home in the years 1959-1961. The letters offer a fantastically intricate and fun look at how Charles Fox became what he became.

The love of music can be "seen" washing over this man like a security blanket that would keep him comforted for the rest of his life. The people and instructors that he met while training in that unbelievably gorgeous town completely draw the reader in, especially his tutor, Nadia Boulanger, who is, to this day, regarded as one of the most renowned and expert composition teachers of the twentieth century. She was certainly the main focus of Fox's life, and he carried her wisdom and talent throughout his career. After reading the pages devoted to Paris, I can tell you that all readers will want to live, eat, and breathe, this time period, and wish with all their hearts that they could follow in Mr. Fox's footsteps.

From the very intricate and lovely beginning of this memoir, we are then brought back to the U.S. and are instantly amazed and, more than a little star struck, by the highlights of this man's career. I mean...really, guys and gals, Mr. Fox has worked with everyone from Barry Manilow to Lena Horne, and even Fred Astaire. He worked on movies, television scores - everything that a composer would kill to accomplish. He is the man behind some of the most recognizable works in history. I mean...who doesn't know the theme to the Love Boat? And, come on, Laverne and Shirley? Happy Days?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SW on September 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought I was buying a memoir by Charles Fox. Instead I received the sheet music to Killing Me Softly.
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Format: Paperback
The Fox home was a kosher one and when young Charles wanted to strike out on his own as a musician, the best place for him to start was the Borscht Belt. In the 1950s, the Catskills were a draw for talent of all sorts, comedic, musical, and the fading Vaudevillian. Charles had a rare musical talent in his soul unmatched by anyone who had preceded him and those yet to come, but no one would really take note of a fifteen-year-old tinkling the ivories that summer. Charles, who hadn't touched a piano until he was nine years old, quickly discovered that music would be his profession, a dream that his family would wholeheartedly support.

It was a chance meeting with his teacher, Nura Yurberg, that would provide the impetus that he needed to move forward in the world of music. She was out walking her dog late at night as he got off work and in passing she made mention of Paris. Not long after that he was "on a chartered flight to Paris, along with other students who would be attending the Conservatoire de Musique, in Fondainebleau, France for the summer." It was there that he would meet Mlle Boulanger, a musical instructor who had no equal. Charles knew that her fierce criticism was fodder for his musical growth and he naively shrugged off his money issues as his mentor always maintained she would accept some later. Mlle Nadia Boulanger knew he had talent and wanted to nourish it.

Charles, at eighteen, still longed for home and eagerly awaited his family's letters. In his return letters, later preserved in a "shoebox in a dresser drawer in [his mother's] bedroom in the Bronx," his love of music poured from the pages. He was so immersed in his life with Mlle Boulanger in Paris that is wasn't until many months later he thought to ask, "So ... how is my cat?" (pg.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read "Killing Me Softly - my life in music" by legendary composer Charles Fox. Given to me because I'm a musician and from the era when he had the majority of his hits-- not just "Killing Me Softly" (by Roberta Flack and later the Fugees), but Jim Croce's "I Got A Name" and Barry Manilow's "Ready To Take A Chance Again". The book's second half takes us in and out of my entire childhood, and perhaps yours, a behind the scenes look into the making of the tv shows he wrote the music for-- from "The Wide World of Sports" - to "Happy Days", "Laverne & Shirley" and "Love Boat"-- to the films like "Foul Play" and "9-5"-- but it's the inside stories, that I found very nostalgic and inspiring and heartwarming... and made me go to my own piano and realize maybe there were better melodies and harder work inside of me. The first half of the book chronicles Charles's studies with the late and renowned music teacher Nadia Boulanger, whom he studied with for 3 years. During this period in France, he was too poor to call home, so he wrote a series of hand written and elegant letters about all he learned from Boulanger and these letters are reproduced here, making me wish I was on that piano bench next to her. So while, this is a must read for anyone who considers music part of their career dreams, it's equally good for anyone who loves music, or pop culture, period. Ultimately it's an American success story and a fun well written memoir which I enjoyed very much. M. Levenstein
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