Gil Scott-Heron, poet / musician / political commentator died yesterday in a NY Hospital.
He is often credited as the ‘grandfather’ of rap and hip-hop. He’s been “sampled” by a number of artists. His quirky, often acerbic, poetry set to jazz never caught on in the pop music market. But, Gil Scott-Heron’s art, wordplay, and intellectual clarity has had a huge influence on many people, including me.
“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a phrase that actually ended up used in advertising tag lines …. wow, THAT was one of the most surreal moments ever when I heard that on TV on night!
Like many profoundly talented people, Gil Scott-Heron had his ‘demons.’ But, that cliche doesn’t begin to touch the complexity of his intellect and artistry. He lived life having fierce conversations about things that matter. On the way, he was challenged by his own passions, physical chemistry and risky behavior.
I went to see him in Washington, DC last summer. I stayed for all four days and went to every show. He was promoting his new album, “I’m New Here.” ((An ironic title, because he’d never ‘left’ … this was his ‘jab’ at those music critics who thought he went on hiatus.) His voice wasn’t as silky smooth but his riffs (stories, humor and rants) between the music made me think, laugh, cry and above all be very grateful I was able to see him in person. He looked physically frail when I handed him a bouquet of flowers before the first show. Those 8 shows are the only time I’ve seen him in concert. I lived a dream that week. He played a gig.
May Gil Scott-Heron rest in peace.
Playing with the word ‘peace’ as he did in “Bicentennial Blues” …. Gil Scott-Heron loved peace, fought for peace, might have peace now. A piece of him lives on in memory.
A very lovely eulogy, MsOlivia.
Thank you magnus. His work/artistry means a great deal to Me.
this makes us bookends, Ms. Olivia, for i saw him in DC just about the time of “The Revolution Will Not be Televised.” live, he was one of the most understated, yet riveting i’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. indeed, if i’d have been back in DC last summer, instead of this past December, we’d have likely been in the audience together, yet separately, each of us in our own world with just the man on stage.
ahhhhhh, coffeeboy……I found out about Gil Scott-Heron after his early successes in the 70’s. By the time I tried to go to a concert, he was in the midst of his addiction and when I got to the concert, it was canceled. So…..really until last summer I’d enjoyed him from afar. I didn’t have personal experience of the times he wrote about but I didn’t live with WWI and yet I loved Vera Britton’s Testament of Youth.
You’re right, as a performer he was *understated* and yet riveting. He let his words/images/music speak for itself. Work For Peace remains one of my favorite songs on all time! He sang that every set and I had goosebumps each time! He was unique. And his use of language is extraordinary. He changed the way I saw language, music, art, political commentary and even how to live life. THANK YOU so much for writing. I don’t have anyone in my real life who is particularly interested in him or this …. so, it’s nice to be able to *process* this a bit with someone who gets it. Thank you.
“I don’t have anyone in my real life who is particularly interested in him or this …”
one more thing W/we have in common, Ms. Olivia. when i mentioned his passing to my brother & his girlfriend, they had absolutely blank looks on their faces.
LOL coffeeboy ….. I didn’t even TELL My best girlfriend.
My guy was there when I saw the news and my eyes teared up …. I think he was taken aback at the depth of my reaction – but at least he knows his music (and knew it even before me!)! ~laughs~
Ahhhh, well to each their own. I tend to share when someone is interested but be pretty quiet if they’re not. So, GSH is in that quiet, personal place and that’s okay too.
in retrospect, i should have known better. its the same reaction i got, when i told them Pinetop Perkins died earlier this year. i have to remind myself that i and my tastes don’t always (well…rarely) run mainstream. 😉
*nods* … I hear ya coffeeboy. I enjoy the differences among people and I like it that others have different interests and passions from Me. I like that I get to learn from them and expand My own horizons and interests. Of course, I LOVE to share things that interest Me, but it’s not so much fun if the other person doesn’t *get it* …. best always to throw out a hint or comment, if they’re interested, they let Me know, if they’re not, then I let it drop. OH and I had no idea that Pinetop Perkins had passed…….awwwww….you can ALWAYS share that sort of thing with Me 🙂
its odd, but Pinetop was special to me. years ago, when i was working my way through college, i did a stint as a bouncer for a club in Bethesda, Md. sometimes, when Muddy wasn’t touring, Pinetop, Bob Margolis, or both would put together a group and do a tour of clubs. at least once every time Pinetop was in town, he and a couple of us from the club would wander up to the Tastee Diner after closing time for 2AM breakfast. he’d sit there and tell road stories over coffee until the sun came up.
WOAH coffeeboy…….get OUTTA here! LOL I’ve lives various times in the DC area and I think I know where you’re talking about. Those late night soirees are the stuff of memories! My spot was the Intl. House of Pancakes on Conn. Ave. Did you meet Muddy Waters? So, you really DO know your music, don’t you?
never met Muddy, but, i did meet Stevie Ray before he was old enough to drink. he was traveling with is brother & The Fabulous Thunderbirds that summer. i, also, used to know Thorogood & the Destroyers pretty well, along with Bonnie Raitt, Freebo & a few members of Little Feat….and my most notable achievement: i threw Joan Jett out of the club for being under age!
ROFLOL ! I love that Joan Jett story coffeeboy! ~laughs~ We sure are a group of diverse and interesting individuals aren’t we?
THANK YOU so much for your contributions!
Ms. Olivia, its an honor and privilege to contribute to Your blog. You are so articulate and easy to talk with on virtually any subject. I stand (or kneel) in awe!
awww thank you coffee boy!