Artist: Gil Scott-Heron

The Revolution Will Not be Televised ~ Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-HeronGil Scott-Heron is an American poet, musician, and author known primarily for his late 1960s and early 1970s work as a spoken word performer. He is associated with African American militant activism, and is best known for his poem and song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”; and for writing “Home is Where The Hatred Is” an eerie account of drug use that was a hit by the grammy-award winning R&B singer Esther Phillips in 1972.

Scott-Heron began his recording career in 1970 with the LP Small Talk at 125th & Lenox. Bob Thiele of Flying Dutchman Records produced the album, and Scott-Heron was accompanied by Eddie Knowles and Charlie Saunders on conga and David Barnes on percussion and vocals. The album’s 15 tracks dealt with themes such as the superficiality of television and mass consumerism, the hypocrisy of some would-be Black revolutionaries, white middle-class ignorance of the difficulties faced by inner-city residents, and fear of homosexuals. In the liner notes, Scott-Heron acknowledged as influences Richie Havens, John Coltrane, Otis Redding, Jose Feliciano, Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Nina Simone, and the pianist who would become his long-time collaborator, Brian Jackson.

Scott-Heron is known in many circles as “the godfather of rap” and is widely considered to be one of the genre’s founding fathers. Given the political consciousness that lies at the foundation of his work, he can also be called a founder of political rap. Message to the Messengers was a plea for the new generation of rappers to speak for change rather than perpetuate the current social situation, and to be more articulate and artistic:

“There’s a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humour. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing.”

In 2001, Gil Scott-Heron was sentenced to one to three years’ imprisonment in New York State for cocaine possession. While out of jail in 2002, he appeared on the Blazing Arrow album by Blackalicious. He was released on parole in 2003.

On July 5, 2006, Scott-Heron was sentenced to two to four years in a New York State prison for violating a plea deal on a drug-possession charge by leaving a treatment center. Scott-Heron said he is HIV-positive and claimed the in-patient rehabilitation center stopped giving him his medication. Scott-Heron’s sentence was to run until July 13, 2009. He was paroled on May 23, 2007.[5]

He has since begun performing live again, starting with a show at SOBs in New York on September 13, 2007. On stage, he stated that he and his musicians were working on a new album and that he had resumed writing a book titled The Last Holiday (previously on long-term hiatus) about Stevie Wonder and his successful attempt to have Martin Luther King’s birthday made a national holiday in the USA.

Gil was arrested October 10, the day before a second SOBs performance scheduled for October 11, 2007, on felony possession of cocaine charges.

Gil Scott-Heron died on the afternoon of May 27, 2011, at St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City, after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip. He is survived by his wife, Brenda Sykes, and daughter, Gia. He was 62.

The Revolution Will Not be Televised

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a poem and song by Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron first recorded it for his 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, on which he recited the lyrics, accompanied by congas and bongo drums. A re-recorded version, with a full band, was the B-side to Scott-Heron’s first single, “Home Is Where the Hatred Is”, from his album Pieces of a Man (1971). It was also included on his compilation album, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1974).

In 2010, the New Statesman listed it as one of the “Top 20 Political Songs”

Cultural references found in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised:

  • “Plug in, turn on, and cop out”, a reference to Timothy Leary’s pro-LSD phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”
  • “Skag”, slang term for heroin
  • Xerox, best-known manufacturer (at the time of the poem’s writing) of photocopying machines
  • Richard Nixon, 37th president of the United States
  • John N. Mitchell, U.S. Attorney General under Nixon
  • General Creighton Abrams, one of the commanders of military operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War
  • Mendel Rivers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the period of the Vietnam War
  • Spiro Agnew, 39th vice president of the United States under Nixon
  • “Hog maws”, sometimes misheard as “hog moss”, soul food made from the lining of the stomach, or maw, of a pig
  • Schaefer Award Theater, radio show by Dick Clark
  • Natalie Wood, film actress
  • Steve McQueen, film actor
  • Bullwinkle, cartoon character
  • Julia, a TV half-hour sitcom series starring Diahann Carroll, which was seen by many as a very patronizing depiction of then-current race relations.
  • “Give your mouth sex appeal”, from Ultra Brite toothpaste advertising
  • “The revolution will not get rid of the nubs”, the nubs being beard stubble, from a Schick razor advertisement of the period
  • Willie Mays, one of the first African Americans to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era (since 1900).
  • “NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32″, a reference to television networks predicting the winner of presidential elections shortly after the polls close at 8:00.
  • Whitney Young, civil rights leader
  • Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NAACP
  • Watts, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, referring to the Watts Riots of 1965
  • “Red, black, and green”, the colors of the Pan-African flag
  • Green Acres, a U.S. television sitcom
  • The Beverly Hillbillies, a U.S. television sitcom
  • “Hooterville Junction”, fictional setting of Green Acres and Petticoat Junction
  • Dick and Jane, white children, a brother and sister, featured in American basal readers
  • Search for Tomorrow, a popular U.S. television soap opera
  • “Women liberationists”, a reference to members of the feminist movement
  • Jackie Onassis, the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s widow, seen during the period in television broadcasts of John F. Kennedy memorials
  • Jim Webb, U.S. composer
  • Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner”
  • Glen Campbell, U.S. pop music singer
  • Tom Jones, Welsh pop music singer
  • Johnny Cash, U.S. country music singer
  • Engelbert Humperdinck, British pop music singer
  • Rare Earth, all-white U.S. pop music band signed to Motown Records
  • “White tornado”, advertising slogan for Ajax cleanser, “Ajax cleans like a white tornado”
  • “White lightning”, a slang term for moonshine, the name of a 1950s country and western song by George Jones, and an American psychedelic rock band. This could also be a reference to the advertising for the Mountain Dew soft drink, which was briefly renamed “White Lightning” in the mid-1960s.
  • “Dove in your bedroom”, an advertising image associated with Dove anti-perspirant deodorant
  • reference to “Put a tiger in your tank”, an Exxon advertising slogan created by Chicago copywriter Emery Smith
  • “Giant in your toilet bowl”, a combination reference to the advertising of Salvo laundry detergent, which promised to “Put a giant in your washer!”, and Ty-D-Bowl toilet cleaner, whose commercials featured a diminutive man boating in a toilet tank.
  • reference to “Things go better with Coke”, a Coca-Cola advertising slogan
  • reference to “Fights germs that may cause bad breath”, from Listerine advertising
  • reference to “Let Hertz put you in the driver’s seat”, advertising slogan for Hertz car rental

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/gil-scott-heron-the-revolution-will-not-be-televised.flv[/flv]

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.

  • Audio from the 1971 album, Pieces of a Man:
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We Almost Lost Detroit ~ Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-HeronGil Scott-Heron is an American poet, musician, and author known primarily for his late 1960s and early 1970s work as a spoken word performer. He is associated with African American militant activism, and is best known for his poem and song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”; and for writing “Home is Where The Hatred Is” an eerie account of drug use that was a hit by the grammy-award winning R&B singer Esther Phillips in 1972.

Scott-Heron began his recording career in 1970 with the LP Small Talk at 125th & Lenox. Bob Thiele of Flying Dutchman Records produced the album, and Scott-Heron was accompanied by Eddie Knowles and Charlie Saunders on conga and David Barnes on percussion and vocals. The album’s 15 tracks dealt with themes such as the superficiality of television and mass consumerism, the hypocrisy of some would-be Black revolutionaries, white middle-class ignorance of the difficulties faced by inner-city residents, and fear of homosexuals. In the liner notes, Scott-Heron acknowledged as influences Richie Havens, John Coltrane, Otis Redding, Jose Feliciano, Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Nina Simone, and the pianist who would become his long-time collaborator, Brian Jackson.

Scott-Heron is known in many circles as “the godfather of rap” and is widely considered to be one of the genre’s founding fathers. Given the political consciousness that lies at the foundation of his work, he can also be called a founder of political rap. Message to the Messengers was a plea for the new generation of rappers to speak for change rather than perpetuate the current social situation, and to be more articulate and artistic:

“There’s a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humour. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing.”

In 2001, Gil Scott-Heron was sentenced to one to three years’ imprisonment in New York State for cocaine possession. While out of jail in 2002, he appeared on the Blazing Arrow album by Blackalicious. He was released on parole in 2003.

On July 5, 2006, Scott-Heron was sentenced to two to four years in a New York State prison for violating a plea deal on a drug-possession charge by leaving a treatment center. Scott-Heron said he is HIV-positive and claimed the in-patient rehabilitation center stopped giving him his medication. Scott-Heron’s sentence was to run until July 13, 2009. He was paroled on May 23, 2007.[5]

He has since begun performing live again, starting with a show at SOBs in New York on September 13, 2007. On stage, he stated that he and his musicians were working on a new album and that he had resumed writing a book titled The Last Holiday (previously on long-term hiatus) about Stevie Wonder and his successful attempt to have Martin Luther King’s birthday made a national holiday in the USA.

Gil was arrested October 10, the day before a second SOBs performance scheduled for October 11, 2007, on felony possession of cocaine charges.

Gil Scott-Heron died on the afternoon of May 27, 2011, at St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City, after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip. He is survived by his wife, Brenda Sykes, and daughter, Gia.  He was 62.

We Almost Lost Detroit

This song is about the nuclear accident that occured on October 5, 1966 at the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station (Fermi #1), located 30 miles South of Detroit Michigan.

Fermi I Breeder Reactor
The Fermi I reactor was a breeder located at Lagoona Beach, 30 miles from Detroit. On October 5, 1966, high temperatures were measured (700 compared to normal 580¡F) and radiation alarms sounded involving two fuel rod subassemblies. The reactor scrammed and there was indication of fuel melting. After a month of sweating, they tested out enough subassemblies to limit the damage to 6 subassemblies. By January 67 they had learned that 4 subassemblies were damaged with two stuck together, but it took until May to remove the assemblies.

When they had checked the sodium flow earlier, they had detected a clapping noise. In August 67 they were able to lower a periscope device into the meltdown pan and found that a piece of zirconium cladding had come loose and was blocking the sodium coolant nozzles. The zirconium cladding was part of the lining of the meltdown cone designed to direct the distribution of fuel material should a meltdown of the fuel occur. Such structures are necessary in a breeder reactor because of the possibliity of molten fuel reassembling itself in a critical configuration. This is not a possibility in an ordinary light water reactor because of the low level of enrichment of the uranium, but a fast breeder reactor is operated with a much higher level of enrichment. The phrase “China syndrome” was coined in regard to this accident as they were contemplating the possibilities should a meltdown of fuel with critical reassembly take place. The uncontrolled fission reaction could create enough heat to melt its way into the earth, and some engineer remarked “it could go all the way to China”.

With ingenious tools designed and built for the purpose, the piece of zirconium was fished out in April of 1968. In May of 1970, the reactor was ready to resume operation, but a sodium explosion delayed it until July of 1970. In October it finally reached a level of 200 Mwatts. The total cost of the repair was about $132 million. In August of 1972 upon denial of the extension of its operating license, the shutdown process for the plant was initiated.

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It stands out on a highway
like a Creature from another time.
It inspires the babies’ questions,
“What’s that?”

For their mothers as they ride.
But no one stopped to think about the babies
or how they would survive,
and we almost lost Detroit
this time.

How would we ever get over
losing our minds?
Just thirty miles from Detroit
stands a giant power station.
It ticks each night as the city sleeps
seconds from anniahlation.
But no one stopped to think about the people
or how they would survive,
and we almost lost Detroit
this time.

How would we ever get over
over loosing our minds?
The sherrif of Monroe county had,
sure enough disasters on his mind,
and what would karen Silkwood say
if she was still alive?

That when it comes to people’s safety
money wins out every time.
and we almost lost Detroit
this time, this time.
How would we ever get over
over loosing our minds?
You see, we almost lost Detroit
that time.

Almost lost Detroit
that time.
And how would we ever get over…
Cause odds are,
we gonna loose somewhere, one time.
Odds are
we gonna loose somewhere sometime.
And how would we ever get over
loosing our minds?

And how would we ever get over
loosing our minds?
Didn’t they, didn’t they decide?
Almost lost Detroit
that time.

Damn near totally destroyed,
one time.

Didn’t all of the world know?
Say didn’t you know?
Didn’t all of the world know?
Say didn’t you know?

  • Audio from the 1977 Bridges album:

album-bridges
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