In 1971, Don McLean was a known artist but hadn’t yet hit it big with “American Pie.” Lori Lieberman was a 19-year-old singer-songwriter who’d recently scored a contract. Lieberman attended one of McLean’s shows and she was so struck by his performance
of the song “Empty Chairs” that she wrote a poem about it, more or less on the spot. She took the notes to her collaborators and they put together a song for her album. It became her first single, but it was quickly overshadowed when Roberta Flack covered it.
While the song was covered numerous times, including versions by artists as diverse as Perry Como and Michael Jackson, it wasn’t until The Fugees put together a hip-hop cover that the song gained new life. Lauryn Hill’s singing gives the song an extra emotional ache, perhaps because their original idea was to turn the song into a cautionary tale about substance abuse, an idea that the original writers didn’t support.
As usual, your podcatcher should have the show by now, or you can play it right here. Or, if you prefer to download it yourself, click here and have at it.
And remember: you can also listen to the show via Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music and TuneIn.com, which means you can also play it through your Amazon Alexa! (“Alexa, play How Good It Is on Tune In Dot Com.”) Go check out the links somewhere in the right-hand column.