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Gil Scott-Heron, 70s Extreme Soul – Retrospective His 5 Best Songs

Gil Scott-Heron
Anna Webber, Getty Images Entertainment

Gil Scott-Heron, spoken word, jazz muscian, singer and 70s underground stalwart passed away recently. His music was tough and was one of the loudest protest voices in the African-American movement.  He is remembered now as an infuential influence on early rap and hip-hop musicians.  Here's a listen to 5 of his most remembered songs.

The image above was taken a year and month before his death at the Coachella Music Festival.


5

Home Is There The Hatred Is

 
 

Listening this, I can imagine Gil Scott-Heron walking down the streets of his adopted home of Harlem during the gritty 70s. Junkies, rundown housing and rampant crime mesh with the driving beat to this one.

 
4

When You Are Who You Are

 
 

My personal favorite Gil Scott-Heron song is from his Pieces of a Man release. That album was his second release and the melodic than the spoken word, beat poetry sound of his first album.

 
3

We Almost Lost Detroit

 
 

The song refers to a near-meltdown as a nuclear plant south of Detroit in 1969 and is one of the most powerful anti-nuclear power songs ever written.

 
2

I'm New Here

 
 

From Gil Scott-Heron's later years, I'm New Here is the title track to this final album. His sound has mellowed, but the fires of the belly don't quench so much with age.

 
1

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

 
 

Scott-Heron's best known song was released twice. The version here is the spoken-word version from Small Talk at 125th and Lenox.  Another version, with full instrumentation appears on his follow-up Pieces of a Man release.  This song is considered one of the most politically charged of all time.  However, is was such a song of its era, some, if not most, of the cultural refrences will be lost on younger listeners.

It's interesting to listen to this song in light of the recent revolutions in the middle east and North Africa.  It appears that in this point in history revolutions may not be televised but they are Tweeted and spread on Facebook.

 

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