Friday, May 27, 2011

RIP, GIL SCOTT HERON

I first became acquainted with the art of Gil Scott-Heron when I was leading a non-profit organization called The Dirty Roots Revolution. Obviously, we gravitated toward things that played on the "revolution" theme. Eventually, I stumbled across Gil Scott-Heron's classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". I'm certainly far from an expert on Gil Scott-Heron's and his work, but I did become a "casual" fan. I enjoy a compilation album I have of his and I got his latest album, "I'm New Here" when it came out last year. Very good stuff.

When I heard "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", I thought there was another one of those guys that I'd always heard ABOUT, but hadn't heard. When you see people doing what they might call a beatnik impersonation, they're doing a cartoonish, caricature version of what Gil Scott-Heron did, especially in his early years. His spoken word pieces laid the foundation for what would eventually become hip-hop.

Prior to the release of his most recent album, Gil Scott-Heron had struggled extensively with drug abuse and was in and out of prison several times through the last few years. When "I'm New Here" was released to great acclaim and somewhat surprising success, I'd hoped he'd turned a corner and might enjoy a late-career renaissance like Johnny Cash, et al.

Gil Scott-Heron was bold. He was intelligent. And he was brave. Brotha had something to say and he did it in interesting ways that mattered.

If you haven't already, check out the music of Gil Scott-Heron. You won't be disappointed.

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED by Gil Scott-Heron
You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

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