Gil Scott Heron: Then and Now
In this "overlapping collection" of poem, songs and musings the late "Untamed Proud Poet" Gil Scott-Heron includes work from So Far, So Good and a few from Small Talk at 125th and Lenox from the 70's up until the turn of the century.
The classic "The Revolution Will not be Televised" is included:
-The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
-The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner
-The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning or white people
-The revolution will not be televised .
Heron writes in the introduction, "There were also times when i ran into places along the songs road that i could not navigate, and lines that completed verses and support for bridges were 'given to me.' The lyrics were 'blessings.' For me these songs became 'spirituals'."
Through out this book there is a sense of prophecy, humour and quiet optimism in the face of America's racist and economic bigotry. He sensed the serious implications of b-actor Ronald Reagan's re-election in the poem "Re-Ron" and in "Whitey on Moon" he writes of his sister being bitten and infected by a rat and no money to pay the doctor "but whitey's on the moon." In "Peices of a Man" written in 1975 which could just as easily apply today:
It is mid-winter in America; a man made season of shattered dreams and shocked citizens, fumbling and frustrated beneath the crush of greed of corporate monsters and economic manipulators gone wild. There are bitter winds born in the knowledge of secret plans hatched by western money men that back fired and grew out of control to eat it's own.
Heron lived the life...junki, convict, street philosopher, world wide fame and is what Gramasci would call an organic activist i.e. oppression was not a theory but a lived reality. He was an activist who worked with Stevie Wonder for ten years to ensure the USA had a national day of celebration for Martin Luther King.
For those who had dificulty with the homeless at Occupy perhaps this book of poems will be the antidote or at least an openning
Finally I defer to the man once again:
"Read books but don't get booked".
He is one of the good ones.