I don’t mean that I drive a Suburban… I am, for better or worse, a white guy who lives in the suburbs. I would much rather be referred to as a Charcoal Grey Porsche Guy but that, also for better or worse, is a ways off.
I have been listening to a lot of Gil Scott-Heron as of late. His death made me want to really delve in a lot more deeply than I ever had. A few things strike me… First, his music is incredible and is just so easy to listen to. I don’t know why I was not listening more… Well… Okay, I kinda do… It’s because I have so much, perhaps too much music and I don’t always cycle through it the way I should. The main impetus for this blog was to listen to albums and iTunes I have and perhaps lost track of, but new artists and discoveries and albums keep coming into the mix, and have played a big part of it. The main thing is that I am trying to honor that spontaneous spirit and go where the day, or the music, takes me.
The second thing about Gil Scott-Heron is the sad irony of his music and life. He articulates the African-American struggle so eloquently, especially when it comes to the bottle and drugs, but then fell victim to addiction himself. It is rare to have music be so good and still have an activist message. It seems that, too often, one trumps the other. But not here. Not even close.
Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of A Man
This was a tough call, as Winter in America is so damn good, too… and his compilation The Revolution Will Not Be Televised has been in equal and constant rotation.
This one, his first studio album, came out in 1971 and features his frequent and brilliant collaborator Brian Jackson on keys, as well as Ron Carter on bass and a bunch of other jazz and R&B greats. It is a big fusion plate full of jazz, funk, soul and R&B and obviously influenced the world of Rap and Hip Hop that would come along later. Just check out all the RIP tweets he is getting. He was truly the “Godfather of Rap.”
His voice, whether singing or speaking or both, is just so warm and expressive and amazing. You hear him living and struggling in each and every note.
These lines in particular from “Home is Where the Hatred Is” grabbed me…
“Home is where the hatred is
Home is filled with pain and it
Might not be such a bad idea if i never, never went home again.”
I often joke about how my normal upbringing and loving, kind parents screwed me artistically. I was at the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA yesterday and thought the same thing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the love and skip the pain… but those feelings of isolation and not fitting in do wonders for the artistic palate.
Anyway… RIP Gil Scott-Heron. No need for me to call out songs or offer my takes… the music is brilliant and speaks for itself… and not only should be listened to… but MUST be listened to.
And this is coming from the average white guy who does not have a band. Peace.