Friday, June 3, 2011

Gil Scott Heron(Fallen Star)-Prt 1

He(poet&recording artist)syncopated spoken style and mordant critiques of politics, racism and mass media in pieces like "The revolution will not be televised". During one of the greatest era(late 60's-80's)his voice, his words, rang true. Gil Scott Heron's work is considered by many to have pre-figured 'Rap/Hip-Hop'. Mr Scott often bristled at the suggestion, once having said "I don't know if I can take the blame for it". He thought of himself as a Bluesologist drawing from the traditions of blues, Jazz and Harlem Renaissance poetics. Mr Scott died @ saint Luke's hospital in Manhattan on May 27th 2011, more than likely due to the fact that he was HIV positive, and the effects of his struggle with drug abuse(crack&cocaine). His death was announced in a twitter msg(I don't think that was right)by his British publisher, Jamie Byng. According to the associated press he had become ill after a trip to Europe. Mr Scott was born in Chicago on April 1st 1949. Despite this he was reared in Tennessee and NYC. His mother was a librarian and an english teacher; his estranged father was a Jamaican soccer player. Gil Scott Heron began as a writer back in the day, before he took the stage by storm. In his early days as a teen, detective stories were his first foray into writing. His work 'won him a scholarship to the Fieldston school in the Bronx, where he was one of 5 black students in class of 100'. As Langston Huges did he went to the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Scott wrote his first novel @ 19, "The Vulture". A book of verse, "small talk on 125th st and Lenox" and a second novel, "The Nigger Factory", soon followed. Although his work was well received, Scott, in search of a broader horizon and greater things- began to work with music. He began collaborating with Brian Jackson, a collage friend, and they produced his first album "Small talk at 125 and Lenox"(1970-Flying Dutchman records). The album included a live recitation "Revolution" accompanied by conga and bongo drums. Another version of that piece was recorded with a full band, including Jazz bassist Ron Carter(Carter would later work with "A Tribe called Quest": 'Low end theory'). It was released on Mr Scott's second album "Pieces of Man". With pieces like "Revolution" he derided society's dominating forces as well as the gullibly dominated. With a barrage of pop-culture references, sardonic sharp wit, he was the voice and inspiration of campus activists, media theorists, coffee-house poets, and of course those who would begin what would be called Hip-Hop. But despite being seen as a prodigy with significant potential, he in some respects never achieved more than cult popularity. Between 1970-1982 he recorded 13 albums. However, buy the mid 80's Scott had begun to fade, and his recording output slowed to trickle. And, like so many great minds, talents, artist, and musicians he would go from casual drug use to the path of addiction. "Since 2001, Mr Scott-Heron had been convicted twice for cocaine possession and he served a sentence at Rikers Island for parole violation. He would often dodge questions about his drug use. Being himself quite troubled by his appearance(due to smoking crack&abusing other kinds of drugs), like a vampire he avoided his own reflection. "Ten to 15 minutes of this, I don'thave pain", Scott had said in an article(New Yorker Profile), as he lighted a glass crack pipe. "The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer award theater and will not star Natalie Wood and Steve Mcqueen or Bull Winkle and Julia". "The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal". "The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, brother". One would ask, of course, how could this happen? How could such a gifted mind fall victim to one of the very evils he spoke so resoundingly about? Without making excuses I would ask you dear reader, do you know what it means to be at the forefront of social change? Do you know what it means to carry the hopes, dreams, and pain of not only your people but your country? Sooner or later you grow to resent the burden. For "he who makes beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man". In an era when African Americans at the vanguard of great change were targets and being pursued by agents of the state and haunted by the burden of that struggle night and day, keeping hope alive within yourself and others must have been a real fucking bitch. If its one thing the "System" has learned to do is to change its tactic's in order to avoid a loss of control. "When change threatens to rule, the rules are changed"(Michael Parenti). 1st-gather info on the leaders, 2nd-exploit there weakness or the weakness of there follower's, 3rd-whenever possible, kill them out right, or jail them, 4th-feed the general public(mass- media) what will cause fear to rise within them, 5th-use economics(silent weapons for a quiet war) to cripple the cities they live in, 6th-Chemical warfare(Crack&Heroin), flood the cities with drugs so that the weak will perish, and the strong will lose hope in watching them die. Armed revolution was simply not an option, but social revolution was, and still is. Gil Scott and others would have to wait out those dark times, but within those dark times the gangs, and drugs, and a lack of options due to economic down-turn would lay waste to so much of their hope. More and more him and others became relic's from that turbulent time, to be replaced by new "heroes"(Public Enemy, Boggie down Productions, Arrested Development, TLC, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, Digital Underground, WU Tang Clan) for the youth; some fit, many themselves unfit to wear the mantle of leadership. Many of these "heroes" would remember, recall, and re-use the words(Sampling) of Gil Scott Heron and others. But out of the ashes of strife and struggle would rise a "new revolution", a revolution of the mind, the body, and the soul. Only through this can we as a people hope to stand, deliver, and hold our own(with or with out "leaders")in the wake of the "New World Order". Gil Scott Heron's body may be broken but his great work will live on, for at the very least he left behind something greater then himself. May flights of Jazz notes wing you to your rest my friend. "The revolution will not be televised...."  because the revolution is now, the revolution is you. [end communication] Some of the info in this article was taken from Ben Sisario's article for the N.Y Times online and Wikipedia. Article by K.K.W, Photo: Wikipedia. And as always if you have something to say about this, click the word comment beneath this post and follow thru. "Art is the reason, Art is the way" 

2 comments:

pips said...

This is a very good article, sad and up-lifting @ the same time. It awful that someone so gifted can fall victim to hardships of the place he lived in. Gil Scott Heron will be missed.

A Stand Alone Product said...

Fucking EXcellent... well said man. Somewhere there r those who appreciate such things.