RIP, Gil Scott-Heron

Dead at 62:

But it ain’t over:

43 replies
  1. 1
    JRon says:

    If anyone does not have his last album, get it. He left us with a real work of art just before he passed.

    His version of Smog’s “I’m New Here” was extremely powerful, but is not alone there as a rich and moving song.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    gravie says:

    A great artist.

  4. 4
    Little Boots says:

    see? you’re awesome, john boy.

  5. 5
    Cap'n Phealy says:

    I was always partial to B Movie, myself. “Well, the first thing I got to say is: ‘Mandate, my ass.'”

  6. 6
    theBejaysus says:

    The revolution will not be televised.

    Whitey on the moon.

    The West Coast Last Poet.

    Ansd so it goes….

  7. 7
    Dennis G. says:

    Sad to hear this. He will be miss. So many great lines and so many great songs. “B Movie” often comes to mind as I contemplate the current crop of sad Reagan imitators.

  8. 8
    Comrade Mary says:

    FUCK. I just saw this on Metafilter, too. Consensus there is that his new stuff was really good again after many fallow years.

    Also from Metafilter: Happy Birthday Gil!

  9. 9
    gwangung says:

    H20 G-A-T-E Blues. And its sequel, “We beg your pardon, America”

    WIth the immortal line,

    “He could fit all his black friends into the trunk of a VW Bug. And still have room left over for the Republican elephant.”

  10. 10
    pdoege says:

    Wow, that “Gore and Bush are the same!” trope has really aged well.

  11. 11
    kdaug says:

    @Little Boots:

    Probably just my inner misanthropic sociopath, but I honestly don’t give two shits about what Cole thinks of me. And to be extra-honest, ditto for the rest of y’all.

    As long as he doesn’t ban me, I aim to keep showing up here, make fun of him when he does something stupid (which, to his credit, he usually lets us know about), argue with him when he’s wrong, and generally admire his transformation from war-mongering right-winger to a veritable lefty.

    Caterpillar/butterfly and all that.

    Deeper – it’s the reason I still like Sully too. I appreciate those who can reconfigure their world-views when the evidence requires it.

    Not everyone can, in my experience. Takes a healthy dose of courage and integrity. Keeps me around this place.

    Oh, and y’all, too. You guys are generally cool.

    Just don’t give a fuck if you love me.

  12. 12
    Little Boots says:


    fair enough. and I mostly agree, but honestly, i do sort of admire the bastard for putting it all out there and being right in the end. I really do.

  13. 13
    kdaug says:

    @Little Boots: So I take it you’ve traveled the same right-to-left road?

  14. 14
    FuriousGiorge says:


    You keep saying, kick it, quit it, kick it, quit it
    God, but did you ever try
    to turn your sick soul inside out
    so that the world, so that the world
    can watch you die

  15. 15
    Little Boots says:



  16. 16
    Citizen_X says:

    Wow, that sucks.

    In other–I guess better–news, it’s Vincent Price’s 100th birthday. And here’s a gutsy tidbit about him, courtesy Wikipedia’s bio:

    One example of his outspoken political action came when he concluded an episode of The Saint titled “Author of Murder”,[9] which aired on NBC Radio on July 30, 1950.[10] While concluding the episode, Price denounced racial and religious prejudice as a form of poison and stated that Americans must actively fight against it because racial and religious prejudice within the United States fuels support for the nation’s enemies.[11]

  17. 17
    Little Boots says:

    and seriously, my answer was to run away and hide and wish it had never happened for 10 years.

    John’s answer was to deal with it, in public and try to make it better in whatever way he could.

    I think John had the better answer, and I really do admire him for it.

  18. 18
    Brian S says:

    I loved his last album. The news has blown up both my Facebook page and Twitter feeds–poets, hiphop artists, fans. I haven’t seen an outpouring like this since Lucille Clifton died. Quite an influence.

  19. 19
    MikeJ says:


  20. 20
    Legalize says:

    Damn. :(

  21. 21
    Little Boots says:

    Damn, what?

  22. 22
    kdaug says:

    @Little Boots:

    seriously, my answer was to run away and hide and wish it had never happened for 10 years.
    John’s answer was to deal with it, in public and try to make it better in whatever way he could.

    Sully, too. For John it was Schiavo, for Sully Abu Ghraib. Spent a couple years prior reading both as intelligent conservatives who, even though I didn’t agree with them, were forthright and honest in their views.

    To watch their transformations from “Yee-Haw” into “Ya know, this whole thing is bullshit” was less of an “I told you so” (cause I didn’t, kept my trap shut), and more of a “welcome to the fold”.

    Which, natch, brings me to ask – anyone know of any other thoughtful conservative bloggers out there? Ones who still toe the party line, but can be persuaded? Or are we down to the 27%?

  23. 23
    Little Boots says:


    Daniel Larison. He’s a bit of a religious nut, but very smart, very moral, and very shrewd. he’s the closest they come these days.

  24. 24
    Little Boots says:

    @Little Boots:

    and though he hates homos like me, I still sort of respect the integrity of Pat Buchanan. but most of them, total corporate whores or neoconservative Israel firsters. really, it’s hard to think of a conservative who isn’t a total douche. it really is.

  25. 25
    hilts says:

    @Little Boots:

    I respect the integrity of Gil Scott-Heron. Integrity or no integrity, Pat Buchanan is still a total douchebag.

  26. 26
    kdaug says:

    @efgoldman: No doubt. He’s fucking English. Classism is inbred.

    I give him credit on his change-of-mind, not on the panoply of his beliefs.

    He’s myopic on a lot of things, but has shown that – with his nose properly rubbed into it – he can change his views.

    Can you say the same about Bobo, Freidman, or Will?

  27. 27
    Steeplejack says:

    Damn. Just checking Balloon Juice before going to bed–late again, as usual–and I see this about Gil Scott-Heron.

    For me his crucial song has always been “Winter in America.”

    RIP, Gil.

  28. 28
    Pustaka Sekolah says:

    Rest in peace for Gil

    From; Blogilicious Fun Makassar

  29. 29
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    (Jose Campos Torres)

    The motherfucking dogs are in the street.

    RIP, Gil.

  30. 30
    daveX99 says:



    The revolution will not be telvised, because of course, they’ll be busy talking about the fucking deficit, or Paul Fucking Ryan.

    Bullwinkle as Julia, indeed.

  31. 31
    daveX99 says:

    More here and here, too. Can’t get too much Gil.

  32. 32
    Wallis Lane says:

    He was the ur-rapper. A poet and in possession of a wonderfuly smooth voice mixed with controlled anger and righteous sarcasm. RIP, GSH

    Although at least some revolutions did end up being televised after all.

    The revolution will not go better with Koch.

  33. 33
  34. 34
    Rihilism says:

    @Little Boots: For me, Buchanan’s culture war speech at the ’92 GOP convention was the final nail in my conservative coffin. Will never forgive Pat for that one and I haven’t voted Repub since…

  35. 35
  36. 36
    Donna says:

    Johannesburg — the reeling beauty gets me every damn time.

  37. 37
    Ash Can says:

    What a terrible loss. Sixty-two is way too young. He was an amazing artist, and a giant in American music.

  38. 38
    Friday Jones says:

    Well done, John Cole. Well done.

  39. 39
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Steeplejack: Another vote for “Winter in America”.

    And now, Democracy is ragtime on the corner, hoping for some rain.

  40. 40
    Sly says:

    Whitey on the Moon is my favorite. Very reminiscent of Langston Hughes’s Ballad of Roosevelt.

  41. 41
    shaun says:

    If you’re old enough to remember the darkness of 1974, click on this YouTube video of Gil doing “Winter in America.”

  42. 42
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    New York like Johannesburg
    Detroit like Johannesburg
    Freedom ain’t nothing but a word

  43. 43
    Neldob says:

    The New Yorker had a profile of him in their Aug 9, 2010 issue. Here’s a bit of what he says –
    “They have taken all this time to stand up straight so that they can say ‘I.’ They’re very proud of that. The way you get to know yourself is by the expressions on other people’s faces, because that’s the only thing that you can see, unless you carry a mirror about. But if you keep saying ‘I’ and they’re saying ‘I,’ you don’t get much out of it.They’re not really into you, or we, or they; they’re into I. That makes conversation slow.”

    His most fabulous piece is ‘Is that Jazz’, the 9 minute one on youtube is always a bright moment. May his weary bones rest in peace and beauty.

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