Gil Scott-Heron, Poet, Dies at 62

May 29, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized 
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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.

You can leave your thoughts about Gil Scott-Heron in the comments.

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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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