Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another boyhood hero lost, who, it turns out, was disturbingly not that much older than me

Gil Scott-Heron, who was one of the first people outside of my immediate family to raise my consciousness, has died at the age of 62. Back when I was a kid and first learned of him thanks to a lucky purchase from a sale bin at the record store, he was … you know, a grown-up, so therefore, incomprehensibly older.

The NY Times says, "His death was announced in a Twitter message on Friday night by his British publisher, Jamie Byng." (This looks like it.)

I wonder what the man most famous for his poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" would make of that. More to the point, I wonder what he thought of the immense amount of social media coverage of the Arab Spring and other recent uprisings. I hope that made him happy, although I can well imagine he had mixed feelings about it.

Here is a live recording -- the original version, I think -- of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" where he is accompanied only by drums (via Peter Rothberg).

(alt. video link)

Here is the version I grew up with, where he is accompanied by a full band.

(alt. video link)

Nice collection of images there by spuddy83. I liked that he is evidently too young to know who "Julia" was. (It is explained to him several times in the comments.) That speaks to the staying power of the poem, as does the number of other versions, covers, mashups, etc., to be found on YouTube.

The Guardian's obit is also worth a look.

(h/t: the "In the news" section on the front page of Wikipedia as of a few minutes ago)

[Added] Thanks to AemJeff in the Comments for reminding me of this one.

(alt. video link)

[Added2] Roy Edroso has a brief, smart remembrance and some recommended links.


Eponym said...

What's the word?

Seriously, I feel exactly the same way.

Brendan said...


I forgot all about that one.