Gil Scott-Heron. 5 songs. a playlist.

(in memory of  Gil Scott-Heron 1949-2011)

Perhaps it’s the price to pay: to lose yourself since you got such a clear view of our post-industrial, media dependent society with all its contradictions and you were able to convey (power of the art) a truth that through breaths, words and music becomes immortal poetry. A place to call home is just the price you pay (the idea of “home” as expression of the stability of a man’s mind); its images, the arrows as in A. Mantegna’ St. Sebastian.

Gil, a martyr. Our martyr.


5 great songs that define the man, his art and his values. and, yes, there are all on Spotify.

1) “Whitey on the Moon” from “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox” (1970)

Album and song, personal favourites of mine. Not yet a singer but already a fully developed lyricist of rare talent. Clever, ironic, funny, sarcastic, caustic. Some of the words you would associate to this young man, America will come to know better in the following decade. This number here would have easily fit into Richard Pryor’s repertoire.

2) “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” from “Pieces of a Man” (1971)

Proto-Rap? Spoken Poetry? A real masterpiece does not fit into any category. It’s 1969, people are marching on the streets but the TV is here to reassure you: the new toilet cleaner is the best the market has ever offered. The revolution will not be televised.

3) “Home is Where The Hatred is” from “Pieces of a Man” (1971)

“Pieces of a Man” is Gil’s best LP. Hard to pick just two out of it. This one tells you with an exquisite funk melody how though the ghetto is and the price you end up paying living there.

4) “The Bottle” from “Winter in America” (1974)

Ya see that man over there? He is telling you that legal drugs can destroy lives just as the illegal ones. Surprisingly, Gil’s most successful single. Actually, no surprise at all. Music is great. That flute!

5) “Storm Music” from “Reflections” (1981)

This one goes along with “Lady Day and John Coltrane”. From Johannesburg to Montego Bay, do not underrate the power of music. It can save lives. Fine reggae-ish number.