The first change takes place in your mind...
Gil Scott-Heron died yesterday and his spoken word poetry pioneered political rap and influenced hip-hop music although he was somewhat critical of hip hop artists. He was quoted in the nineties:
"They need to study music. I played in several bands before I began my career as a poet. There's a big difference between putting words over some music and blending those same words into music. There's not a lot of humor. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms and you don't really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing." [italics mine]
One of my favorite GSH lines is the famous one from "Let Me See Your I.D."
"The first time I heard there was trouble in the Middle East, I thought they were talking about Pittsburgh."
It appeals to me since it reminds me of how self-centered many Americans are regarding the rest of the world in the sense the world begins, ends and revolves around the United States.
In his earlier years he was aware of and foreshadowed the inevitable crash of our consumer culture. One of the most important concepts is his statement in an interview in the nineties with Scott Blumberg "The first change that takes place is in your mind, you have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move."
Like all great artists, his work stands the test of time and is both prescient and relevant today. In that same interview he referred to how Black Americans have been "the only real die-hard Americans here because we're the only ones who carried the process through the process, that everyone else has skipped stages, we're the only ones who marched, carried the Bible, carried the flag, were the ones who tried to go through the courts and being born American didn't seem to matter because we were born American but we had to fight for what we were looking for..."
In his latest work in 2010 "I'm New Here" he refers to coming full circle and is classic in it's beautiful lyricism and simplicity of a solo guitarist as accompanist.