This past week I heard an article on NPR that discussed the new use of flute in hip hop music and other more contemporary music made and performed today.
My mind immediately went flying back to 1970 when Gil Scott Heron produced many of the works that defined the groundbreaking work of merging spoken word poetry, music, and popular culture. If you listen to The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, you will hear the flute weaving throughout this performative piece that referenced the popular slogan among the 1960’s Black Power Movements in the United States. Mentioning popular culture references from television series and ad slogans from that time, talking about what the “Revolution will not” be or do, many listeners today may not understand the popular cultural references that are mentioned: white lightening, white tornado, Natalie Wood, Steve McQueen, Bullwinkle, Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and
If you are of a certain age, you’ll remember the difficult times when Nixon, Spiro Agnew, and other political miscreants were causing angst in our country. Gil Scott-Heron really put his finger on the reason why life was out of control for those that were forced into the margins of the American life at that time, drawing comparisons to the hijinks of elected officials and contrasting it with popular culture amassed in 1970’s ads and programming on television and radio.
Today, over 47 years after this song first broadcast on the airwaves, we see the same situation where we can insert different names into the spoken word poetry. Gil Scott Heron was a groundbreaking artist creating the voice of truth for the artists and citizens that had no voice.
“The revolution will not be televised
WILL not be televised, WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
The revolution will be no re-run brothers
The revolution will be live.”
~ Gill Scott Heron 1949-2011