- MAY 27, 2011, 11:15 PM ET
- Gil Scott-Heron in 1985
Gil Scott-Heron, the poet behind the song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” has died in New York City. He was 62 years old.
“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was a blast at consumer culture and its ability to lead social change. “The revolution will not make you look five pounds/ Thinner, because The revolution will not be televised, Brother,” go the lyrics. In the song, Scott-Heron warns listeners that “the revolution” won’t be found in the pop culture all around them. “The first change that takes place is in your mind,” Scott-Heron once said, explaining his words.
The son of a Jamaican professional soccer player and a college-educated mother who worked as a librarian, Scott-Heron was born in Chicago in 1949, raised in Jackson, Tenn., and later moved to the Bronx. His songs, which occupied a space between jazz, spoken word, and R&B, helped supply some of the musical and philosophical underpinnings of the Black Power movement of the 1970s and the hip-hop culture that would follow.
Many of his songs, like the anti-apartheid tune “Johannesburg,” were infused with social messages advocating equality, justice, and direct action to bring them about. “Well I hate it when the blood starts flowin’/ but I’m glad to see resistance growin’” he sang on “Johannesburg.”
You can listen to the song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” here.
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