Saturday, May 28, 2011

Will the funeral be televised? Gill Scott-Heron RIP

Playing right now: Kirk Knuffke & Jesse Stacken - Orange Was the Color (SteepleChase)

Last night as I was brushing my teeth, I had WJAS on in the bathroom and the CNN top-of-the--hour news came on. That's not the place you expect to hear this, but the final story was that Gil Scott-Heron died yesterday. "He was best known for his song 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.'" I wonder how many insomniac WJAS listeners know the piece, which might actually be considered a poem (and the newscaster might've actually said that. I can't remember). Kudos to that white bread news station for mentioning that. And Gil, may you finally find some peace. Thanks for what you created when you were here, too. You were so gifted and articulate from an early age.
In high school, my friend Freya lent me a copy of Small Talk at 125th and Lenox Avenue which had the first version of "Revolution," accompanied only by conga drums. He was 20 goddam years old and already extremely deep and moving. Last year the New Yorker ran a great and rather lengthy piece on him. He was either on the mend from a crack addiction or still dealing with it, and his mind was still sharp and focused.
Many people have riffed on the "revolution will not be televised" idea since then, saying that of course it will be televised because of the way mass media works these days. There will be extensive coverage and the history will be written before it happens. But the thing to remember is something that I saw Gil say on a PBS special about 20 years ago: What he meant was that the revolution was going to start "up here" [pointing to his head], which I take to mean you have to start with an idea and that the coverage is all secondary to that.

Speaking of people who are still pretty sharp, Lee "Scratch" Perry has a new album out and here is my review of it from Blurt.

I also reviewed the new album by Helado Negro right here.

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