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What's the word - have you heard?
December 16, 2009 7:01 PM   Subscribe

A long-awaited new recording from Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here - will be released in February. Video interview and report by BBC's Stephen Smith. Hear a sample: Where Did the Night Go?. Check out this awesome prior post: Happy Birthday Gil! (via Undercover Black Man)
posted by madamjujujive (32 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lord, but his voice sounds just as it always did, just more haunted.

I didn't think that was possible, actually.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:15 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am embarrassed to say that I had forgotten he was still with us. And only 60! Lord, he was young when he had his first successes. Great news about the new recording.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:24 PM on December 16, 2009


I don't agree that his voice sounds as good as it did back in the day, but I don't think it's lost any of it's impact. When I first checked this out a few days ago I thought it was OK, but not great. But I've gone back several times since then because it's stuck in my head - and it gets better each team. Now I am so freaking psyched for this album. It's nice to already have a record in 2010 that I'm eagerly awaiting.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:28 PM on December 16, 2009


I adore GSH. So glad that he's still making tracks!
posted by jeanmari at 7:28 PM on December 16, 2009


I had no idea this was coming out, thanks so much for the post!

I'm really glad Gil is out of jail and hopefully clean...
posted by rollbiz at 7:31 PM on December 16, 2009


Yay! Just yesterday I was flipping through Sirius Elvis and Sinatra and what have you channels and thinking why oh why is there no GSH station. Thanks for the tip, madamjujujive!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:34 PM on December 16, 2009


is it racially or just historically naive to say it stuck me as a black tom waits?

regardless, i'm in love, so I'm sure I'll be forgiven. Thanks MJJJ!
posted by es_de_bah at 7:40 PM on December 16, 2009


> And only 60!

This means he's younger than Debbie Harry. No, there's not anything wrong with that, but his time in the limelight was a decade and a couple cultural shifts before hers, making it feel like he's a generation older than her.

Thanks for the good news, madamjujujive - I'm gonna have to put an order in for this at my friendly neighborhood music shop.
posted by ardgedee at 7:41 PM on December 16, 2009


The revolution will not be tweeted!

Doesn't have the same ring.

Besides, it was.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:47 PM on December 16, 2009


Outside of one of the best lyrics in LCD Soundsystem's Losing my edge I'd never heard of Gil Scott-Heron, but then again, everyone that I know is more relevant than everyone that you know.
posted by clearly at 7:48 PM on December 16, 2009


And just to pad out your evening, a detailed breakdown of the cultural references in "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised".
posted by ardgedee at 7:54 PM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow, and thanks.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:55 PM on December 16, 2009


Wow, indeed. Thanks for the heads up!
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 8:21 PM on December 16, 2009


is it racially or just historically naive to say it stuck me as a black tom waits?

Just wrong. I never really bought Tom Waits, particularly his earlier pre-Swordfish Trombone stuff which just struck me as a guy wishing he was thirty years older and cooler and "beater", and yeah, maybe blacker.
posted by philip-random at 8:35 PM on December 16, 2009


Great news. I guess I didn't realize he'd grown up in Jackson, TN.

He denies that his recent experiences have percolated into the record, though it is distinctly dark in places

Sort of like saying the sky is blue in places.
posted by blucevalo at 8:40 PM on December 16, 2009


is it racially or just historically naive to say it stuck me as a black tom waits?

Just wrong. I never really bought Tom Waits, particularly his earlier pre-Swordfish Trombone stuff which just struck me as a guy wishing he was thirty years older and cooler and "beater", and yeah, maybe blacker.


As someone who does buy Tom Waits, I actually agree with the sentiment that Scott-Heron and Waits are pretty distinct from one another. Waits is pretty open about being directly influenced by people such as Howin' Wolf and Screaming Jay, hell, if you start a last FM Tom Waits station you'll end up with a lot of those folks and similar cycling though and you can practically hear Waits in Wolf's original version of Spoonful. So, while it very accurate to say that there is a lot of "Black" sound in Waits music (and I love him for it), Waits is a white man doing black sound, so even if the Scott-Heron comparison was valid (and I personally don't buy it, but it may be a matter of personal interpretation) it should read, Waits sounds like a white Scott-heron, not vice-versa.

Oh and a big ol' kick ass to the new Gil Scott-Heron, that is all full of 100 + good.
posted by edgeways at 9:04 PM on December 16, 2009


Saw him live in the 80s (in a tiny club in a posh town in the south of England of all places) in what I think were some of his low times and he still blew the place up. Great, great man.
posted by Abiezer at 9:12 PM on December 16, 2009


"Where Did the Night Go?" Wow, what a great title.

When I saw him in the 80's, I was put off by his loud mediocre guitarist.

But when I listened to him again and again, along with the Last Poets, in the 70's, my black roommate smirking at me during all the derogatory references to whitey, his genius struck me like a cartoon anvil.

I'm glad he is back.
posted by kozad at 9:33 PM on December 16, 2009


I hope the subject isn't faggots this time.
posted by Falconetti at 9:37 PM on December 16, 2009


I'm really glad Gil is out of jail and hopefully clean...

Me too, but I'm not sure about that:

"So you did some coke, now you don't?" I asked. "I didn't say that," came the answer.
posted by juv3nal at 10:08 PM on December 16, 2009


I've always loved his voice, both his singing and his speaking voice. He sounds older here (on "Where Did the Night Go?") and his delivery is slower than on much of his earlier work, but no surprise there. He 's older. He still sounds great to me. Thanks for the post, mjj.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:23 PM on December 16, 2009


Gil! Scott! Heron!
posted by sixswitch at 10:33 PM on December 16, 2009


Gil! Scott! Heron!

Quite.

My laptop shivered when it got to the end of that track. Actually creaked and shivered. So did I.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 10:46 PM on December 16, 2009


is it racially or just historically naive to say it stuck me as a black tom waits?

I don't understand this comment at all. In terms of lyric content, Waits and Scott-Heron are as different as can be. Waits has always dealt in flamboyantly imagistic visions and stories of an essentially fictional nature. His songs are inhabited by hilarious and/or pathetic rogue characters, stumbling and slobbering through rainy city streets, noodle stands and docks on the edge of town. Waits' images and references swirl and tumble in a vortex of hypercolorful theatrical exoticism.

Scott-Heron, on the other hand, is a very "real-life" storyteller: he has generally written songs and poems that are firmly rooted in his own life and political observations. Much of his work deals in themes of social/racial inequality, in an essentially documentary style, not a primarily fictional one. Scott-Heron has for years been, for want of a better term, a "protest singer". While Waits woozily introduces us to accordion-playing Cuban midgets who get tattooed in Singapore at midnight, Scott-Heron very soberly reminds us about his "sister Nell" in the ghetto getting bitten by a rat in her bed while whitey walks on the moon.

So, if it's not lyric content, then is it their voices you're referring to? Must be, but I have to say, I don't think they sound anything like one another. Not one little bit.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:57 PM on December 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


We go beyond the edge of the sky
posted by threetoed at 12:04 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great news! Hopefully I can manage to not forget about by the time February rolls around...
posted by p3t3 at 2:03 AM on December 17, 2009


I am so pleased - these days when I don't have heroes anymore - I'll take Gil anyday over the current crop - Flawed but all the better for it. Angry and always relevant - can't wait till february.
Always a neat trick to put on 'the bottle' in bars with a jukebox.
'Winter in America' should be the soundtrack to the bush years.
posted by dprs75 at 3:42 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a couple of friends who are pretty well known in the Seattle Hip-Hop scene. One day I was asking questions and getting nosy, and he told me about the time they put on a show with Gil Scott-Heron. This must've been in the time frame of ten to fifteen years ago. So they set up everything and the show is about two days away. They go pick up Mr. Scott-Heron from the airport and take him to the hotel. He asks for his payment and they give it to him willingly. Why not? They go to meet him that night for dinner, and nothing. They can't find him. He's gone. Not checked out, but definitely not at the hotel. They talked with one of the other promoters and told him what's up and he did a forehead slap asking "You did what!?" He had to explain to them that Gil Scott-Heron (at the time) is a fiend, and that he is most likely spending his newfound fat wad on any number of vices that he could get a hold of. They search and search for the next day and a half, right up and through showtime. Somebody manages to find him in some skanky dive completely wasted. They drive him directly to the show and prop him up in front of the mike.

"So? How was he?" I ask.

My friend smirks and kind of incredulously shakes his head and says "Man, as soon as he started doing his thing, he was beautiful."
posted by P.o.B. at 4:28 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


'Winter in America' should be the soundtrack to the bush years.

Well, it found its way into and out of my speakers with some regularity throughout the Bush years. Of course, also throughout all the preceding administrations, starting from its release in 1974. Aside from the message and his wonderfully relaxed soulful vocal delivery, I love that cooly marching snare at the opening and the lovely flutes arrangement. Such a cool tune.

Let's listen to it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:33 AM on December 17, 2009


For a couple of semesters, I agreed to lecture for a small university media studies class until they found a full-time faculty member. Me: Late 30-something middle class white chick surrounded by a diverse selection of undergrads. Inner-city, totally rural, USian, international, many races/ethnicities, etc. We had a couple of classes where I let the students bring in samples of their favorite media (audio, video, print, etc.) and a couple of them brought some rap and hip-hop, wondering how I'd react to it.

The next class, I brought in some Gil Scott-Heron and blew their minds :) It was awesome.

Let's also listen to his response to contemporary rappers lauding him as the Godfather of Rap : Message to the Messengers

And my fav track of all time, the beautiful Pieces of a Man.
posted by jeanmari at 6:09 AM on December 17, 2009


Um, flapjax did you mean Let's listen to it?
posted by Kiwi at 9:51 AM on December 17, 2009


aaaah-hahaha! Yes, of course yours is the link I thought i was linking to! That's TOO funny, because for a minute i was thinking of making a joke link to that bizarre other "Winter in America", but had decided against it. Still, its URL was copied, and what I thought was Scott-Heron's "Winter" was the hideous alternate-universe version that appears under my link above. Too rich. I guess the jester in me won out in the end...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:18 PM on December 17, 2009


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