Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron died yesterday afternoon. He was probably most famous for “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” (Check it out here.) The lyrics — this was the 1970s — seem sort of tame today, compared to the political hatred spewing all over the Internet and all the angry violent heavy metal/rap lyrics out there. But it was a start. He said what needed to be said.

Gil Scott Heron was sometimes called the Godfather of Rap, but he rejected that title. He once wrote:

“If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating `hooks,' which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion.”

Scott-Heron’s music has been widely sampled by rappers. I’m guessing Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” (1992) has a lot of Scott-Heron samples.

My favorite songs of his were Winter In America and The Bottle. You can find more YouTube links here.


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Blogger J. Marquis said...

During 1975-76 I worked at a college radio station and we had "The Revoloution Will Not Be Televised" in our library. I thought it was an amazingly original and brave piece of art.

May 28, 2011 at 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just numb with the news, just a week ago I was playing CD after CD of his while remembering better days. Gil's death and Dylan turning 70 is just another reminder of how things have changed since the 70's and why we may never see another Gil Scott-Heron, another Marvin Gaye's "what's going on!", or "Choice of Colors" by Curtis Mayfield. Music is now corporate and classified and today Gil would be told to make it danceable, add a lot of profanity, refer to women derogatorily and then appear on a video decked with gold, in a Bentley with scantily clad women.

He didn't think much of today's rappers, said in a interview " They need to study music. I played in several bands before I began my career as a poet. There’s a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humor. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing."

"Lady Day and John Coltrane, Winter in America, Must be Something", and "Home is where the Hatred is" The last being about Drug addiction which should be sung at his funeral, are my favorites.

Forget Tupac, and Kayne, Gil Scott-Heron is the poet of these ages

My favorite line Gil said about Republicans, I still use today: "Can fit all of his black friends in the back of his car and still have room for the Republican Elephant"


May 28, 2011 at 5:35 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Rap isn't my thing, never has been. But Scott-Heron sounds different and better. I'm sorry he's gone.

I find the post and comments very interesting. More so than anything I've heard or read about the genre or anyone involved in it.

May 29, 2011 at 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

R.I.P Gil Scott-Heron

My favorite-
Sex education,ghetto style.

May 29, 2011 at 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Livin' in a bottle' ?

May 29, 2011 at 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gil wasn't a "rapper".

He was a poet.

May 29, 2011 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

J: Those are some great lyrics. A little tame by today's standards, but shocking for the early '70s.

Erik: I'd guess there are people out there today who are comparable to Gil Scott-Heron and Curtis Mayfield; they just aren't getting much (or any) airplay. Nowadays you're either Number One With A Bullet or you're off the radar completely.

I hadn't known many of his songs until I did a YouTube search when I was writing this post. I used to hear The Bottle and Winter in America on the radio a lot when I was living in Berkeley in the mid '70s (KPFA and KRE). I like "Home is where the hatred is," but I first heard it 2 days ago when I found it on YouTube.

Whatever he thought of rap, somebody does a kickass rap version of "We almost lost Detroit." I forget the group's name; it's on that YouTube menu that I linked to in the post.

SW: He definitely didn't want to be part of the rap scene. His music is sampled by a lot of rappers, but he was a true poet.

Anons.: Thanks for stopping by, you guys. He was one of the greats.

May 30, 2011 at 1:23 PM  

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