A Few Words About Gil Scott Heron

“You will not be able to stay home brother. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out”.

I was lying on the couch this past Saturday evening when I heard the news that Gil Scott Heron had passed away. Being a fan of his art I was saddened. I was reflective.  I gather many of you held similar thoughts and feelings. But I was also disturbed. Disturbed by the coverage of his death. Not because the coverage was salacious or pandered to our basest instincts. Nor because it was factually incorrect or lacked proper appreciation for his artistry. But I was disturbed by the (relative) lack of coverage, the (relative) lack of column inches, the (relative) lack of attention paid to GSH’s passing.

I spend a good part of my days trying to avoid reading or hearing about which celebrity checked into rehab and which politician was caught with his pants down and which athlete got punked by his wife. Y’know stupid sh**. Meaningless sh**. The crap that passes for news, the crap that takes up column inches and warps people’s perceptions of what really matters. Yet news of Gil Scott Heron’s passing barely made a ripple. I know he was never “mainstream” but godda…

…Let me stop before I start getting too preachy and holier than thou up in here. But I just had to vent.

I could go on and on about GSH’s influence on rap/hip hop. I could discuss the delightfully (in a manner of speaking) incisive and insightful social commentary of his oeuvre. But better writers than I have already done so. Plus if you’ve read this far you probably know all about GSH (if not exit this page or open another browser, Google Gil Scott Heron, get up to speed and check back in).

But what did I expect. Did I expect an artist who once said “…America’s revolution will not be the melting pot but the toilet bowl.”,  while asking “who will survive in America?”, who told us “the revolution will not be televised” would be the lead story on news programs across the globe.

I tell you what coverage of Gil Scott Heron’s passing did prove: He was right on and way ahead of his time. Indeed,  “there will be no highlights on the 11 o’clock news…the revolution will not be right back after this message…the revolution will not be televised”. Gil Scott Heron, may your soul rest in peace. And may the rest of us who are so inclined insure that you do.

Gil Scott Heron – The Bottle


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