Tag Archives: Gil Scott-Heron

The Messenger Of Truth

007_1000I am a huge fan of wordsmiths and in my view the greatest unheralded voice of our time was Gilbert “Gil” Scott-Heron; a genius of a musician, song writer, and author. However, Gil was known primarily for his work as a messenger thought his the art of spoken word. His heyday was during the 1970s and 80s but his legacy is everlasting. His vocal stylings as he put it, was that of a “bluesologist”, which he is defined by others as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues.”

The music of Gil Scott Heron, most notably on Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. His recorded work received much critical acclaim, especially one of his best-known compositions “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“. His poetic style has influenced hip-hop where those artists referred to him as the Godfather. Gil’s music was a genre all to itself and worthy of recognition because he was a head of his time and courageous enough to speak truth to power on behalf of the powerless.

What we are seeing today is his prophetic prophesy. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Winter in America 
From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims
And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains
Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds
Looking for the rain
Looking for the rain
Just like the cities staggered on the coastline
Living in a nation that just can’t stand much more
Like the forest buried beneath the highway
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow
 
And now it’s winter
Winter in America
Yes and all of the healers have been killed
Or sent away, yeah
But the people know, the people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
‘Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your soul, Lord knows
From Winter in America
 
The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it’s hoping
Hoping for some rain
 
And I see the robins
Perched in barren treetops
Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor
But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow
 
And now it’s winter
It’s winter in America
And all of the healers have been killed
Or betrayed
Yeah, but the people know, people know
It’s winter, Lord knows
It’s winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your souls
From Winter in America
 
And now it’s winter
Winter in America
And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
Yeah, and the people know, people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save

Rest In Peace my brother. Thank you for the messages. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembering Gil Scott-Heron

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The phenomenon of the late Gil Scott-Heron was truly a powerful voice that spoke to the world with profound essence. I’ve often heard that genius is a rare gift and those who have been given “IT” walk a fine line between that which we appreciate and that which they know themselves to be. To me, that was Gil. I will call him that because he was one of us and from the first time I heard him; it felt like he was within me. His astute stature demands respect because he spoke truth and enlightenment when others dared not do. Therefore, Mr. Heron will live forever, and his prose will be eternal.

I will say with certainty that he was real, and although troubled nearing the end of his life, I felt his pain and I admired him for living life on life’s terms. His political commentary was raw and on point, which is what really impressed me. He had the ability to rebuke bygone bogeymen such as Nixon, Reagan, and Agnew. Darts were also flung at contemporary targets, notably Barack Obama. “My president’s black / But the plan remains the same,’’ rapped Enoch 7th Prophet and who can forget the classics “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’’, “Winter in America’’, “Beginnings (First Minute of a Brand New Day)”, and “Whitey on the Moon.’’

This man was the precursor to rap with some saying he was the “Godfather of Rap” although he often bristled at the suggestion. “I don’t know if I can take the blame for it,” he said in an interview with the music Web site The Daily Swarm. He preferred to call himself a “Bluesologist,” drawing on the traditions of blues, jazz, and Harlem Renaissance poetics. For sure, he was a poet and recording artist whose syncopated spoken style, and mordant critiques of politics, racism, and mass media made him a notable voice of black protest culture in the 1970s.

He did establish much of the attitude and the stylistic vocabulary that would characterize the socially conscious work of early rap groups like Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. He also remained part of the DNA of hip-hop by being sampled by many hip hop stars. Chuck D, the leader of Public Enemy, told The New Yorker in 2010 that Gil Scott-Heron is the manifestation of the modern word… He and the Last Poets set the stage for everyone else.”

He was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949, and reared in Tennessee and later moved to New York. His mother was a librarian and an English teacher; his estranged father was a Jamaican soccer player. In his early teens, Gil wrote detective stories, and his work as a writer won him a scholarship to the Fieldston School in the Bronx. There he was only one of 5 black students in a class of 100. Following in the footsteps of Langston Hughes, he went to the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and he wrote his first novel at 19, a murder mystery called “The Vulture.” A book of verse, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” and a second novel, “The Nigger Factory,” soon followed.

He lived most of his adult life in New York, yet also spent some years in Washington, including a stint in the 1970s. He taught English at Federal City College (a predecessor of the University of the District of Columbia). Gil once described “Washington, DC as both capital and hometown: “Symbols of democracy, pinned up against the coast / Outhouse of bureaucracy, surrounded by a moat / Citizens of poverty are barely out of sight / Overlords escape in the evening with people of the night.”

After meeting and working with a college friend Brian Jackson. Gil turned to music in search of a wider audience. His first album, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” was released in 1970 on Flying Dutchman, a small label, and included a live recitation of “Revolution” accompanied by conga and bongo drums. Another version of that piece, recorded with a full band including the jazz bassist Ron Carter, was released on Mr. Scott-Heron’s second album, “Pieces of a Man,” in 1971.

“Revolution” established Mr. Scott-Heron as a rising star of the black cultural left, and it’s cool, biting ridicule of a nation anesthetized by mass media has resonated with the socially disaffected of various stripes — campus activists, media theorists, coffeehouse poets — for four decades.

During the 1970s, Gil was seen as a prodigy with significant potential, although he never achieved more than cult popularity. He recorded 13 albums from 1970 to 1982 and was one of the first acts that music executive Clive Davis signed after starting Arista Records in 1974. In 1979, he performed at Musicians United for Safe Energy’s “No Nukes” benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden, and in 1985, he appeared on the all-star anti-apartheid album “Sun City.” But by the mid-1980s, Mr. Scott-Heron had begun to fade, and his recording output slowed to a trickle. In later years, he struggled publicly with addiction.

Some of the content for this article appeared in print on May 29, 2011, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Gil Scott-Heron, a Voice of Protest And a Music Pioneer, Dies at 62. This spoken word genius created a genre for himself and all his own. He empowered and for that brother Gil – thank you! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

THE BOTTLE

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED


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