Saturday, May 28, 2011

America Has Lost a Prophet: Gil Scott-Heron RIP

Sad news indeed: I've just learned that jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron has passed on at the age of 62. The above video is a not-so-famous later-day performance of one of his well-known songs from the 1970s, "Winter in America." His most famous songs are probably "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," "The Bottle" and "Home Is Where the Hatred Is." He had a hard life frequently struggling to deal with uncontrolled substance abuse, but he was an absolutely brilliant prophet of the American condition. He pilloried all the problems of American society, and with them a succession of politicians, holding Ronald Reagan up to the light of brutal excoriation. He was a singer and a poet; indeed many people call him the originator of rap music, as his first records in the very early 1970s consisted largely of spoken-word rants over spare jazz arrangements or percussion.

I can't believe he's now gone: I'll try to come back with a greater appreciation of his work later.

(I previously presented one of his songs here.)

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