Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones on Gil Scott-Heron

Just like Shakespeare (sort of)

Gil Scott-Heron was an African–American poet, writer, composer and musician. His understood the use of rage; the power of satire and the need for embrace and love. He was not the father of hip hop or spoken word, but his ability to speak truth to power in his lyrics; to satirize the political elite and to portray the complexities of African American culture and liberation struggles has given all of us much to contemplate and those who are part of the hip hop generation a model to use. As Ron Carter, who played on "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," said: "He wasn't a great singer, but with that voice, if he had whispered it would have been dynamic. It was a voice like you would have for Shakespeare."  The comparison to Shakespeare makes sense to me.  “Your Daddy Loves You,” “Winter in America,” and “We Almost Lost Detroit” are songs about divorce; disillusionment with America society; and the possibility of nuclear disaster – what a range.  And like other great writers, he found important collaborators who spurred his creativity, most notably Brian Jackson.  Few American poets of the postwar years have successfully created poems, stories and songs on large political and social concepts, while simultaneously dealing with intimate issues of love, family, loss, and yes addiction.

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