Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron (1949 - 2011): The Message

No doubt thousands of column inches will be devoted to describing the 'legacy' of Gil Scott-Heron as a prophet, a pioneer, a genius etc. All true enough, but such words hardly do justice to the significance - and eloquence -  of his work in expressing, embodying, chronicling the struggle of African-Americans and of all those trying to stand up for human rights, social justice and liberty.

Here he is in Central Park, NYC in 2010, where despite the ravages of 61 years of personal and political struggle, his wit and his ability to mock the hypocrisy of the powerful and the contradictions of the "land of the free" in tightly constructed phrases is as strong as ever...In a perceptive profile in the Observer, written to mark the release of his first album in 16 years, Sean O'Hagan writes about the way in which "most astute musical social commentator of the 70s and 80s had metamorphosed into a character from one of his own sad songs of suffering and struggle." But yet he still had much to communicate. 

That voice, those words, and those eyes say more than I ever could in text.