Gil Scott-Heron

My memory is crap, but here's what I think I can tell you about how I came across Gil Scott-Heron for the first time. I believe I discovered him through the same radio show that introduced me to Tom Waits: Dr. Sheppard's Electric Medicine Show. I believe I remember correctly that "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" would be played on that show from time to time. Based on that, I sought out The Best of Gil Scott-Heron, where I found that song, "The Bottle," "Ain't No Such Thing As Superman" and others.

I leave it to Rob and Tuffley to speak with more authority about the influence Scott-Heron had on rap and hip-hop and so forth. All I can say is that he definitely was one of my first introductions to the concept of a spoken word performance. "What, you mean you can recite poetry with a bit of rhythm in front of some music? Seriously? Man, I can do that."

Now I find (via The Neil) that he's died at age 62. I haven't yet seen a definitive cause of death but as that article states, he was, at least as of last year and according to the New Yorker, losing a battle against crack. Bloody well heartbreaking.

After the break is the song that got me--and scores of others--introduced to him. To the left is the original beat poem version and to the right is the version with instrumentation that I first heard. Both worth revisiting. Rest well, Mr. Scott-Heron. Thanks for everything.

Beat poem direct link for the feedreaders. Instrumental version direct link for the feedreaders.