Let’s Backtrack: Gil Scott-Heron’s “Pieces Of A Man” turns 50


Gil Scott-Heron’s second album “Pieces of a Man” was recorded in April 1971.  The released date unknown, so now is as good a time as any to mention it.

The album is most famous for the opening song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, a Jazz/Rap/Scat poem laid of a funky, bass-heavy and flute-driven background.  This song is a sledgehammer to the face.  “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is more relevant than ever and could deservedly be the theme song of the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, it is not a “one hit plus filler” album, it is a personal and social statement, with one strong song after another, many of them timeless and still relevant today:

“Save The Children”, exactly what the title suggests.

“Lady Day and John Coltrane”, how music can save your sanity.

“Home Is Where the Hatred Is”, the POV of people with addictions.

“When You Are Who You Are”, a beautiful love song.

“I Think I’ll Call It Morning”, I can’t describe well:

     I'm gonna take myself a piece of sunshine
     And paint it all over my sky
     Be no rain
     Be no rain

     I'm gonna take the song from every bird
     And make em sing it just for me
     Cause why should I hang my head
     Why should I let tears fall from my eyes
     When I've seen everything there is to see

“Pieces of a Man”, when a man loses his job and can’t support his family.

     Jagged jigsaw pieces
     Tossed about the room
     I saw my grandma sweeping
     With her old straw broom
 
     But she didn't know what she was doing
     She could hardly understand
     That she was really sweeping up
     Pieces of a man
And many more.
I’ll admit I was only introduced to the album when it regained popularity thanks to the Acid Jazz movement of the 1980s/1990s.  But it’s such an emotional and powerful album that it makes an impact the first time you hear it.  The entire album is on a youtube playlist.

Comments

  1. Silentbob says

    @ Intransitive

    It is credited by many as the first Rock And Roll song despite Rock’s “official” birth in 1955.

    What you say is true but I don’t know how anyone could make a case that Saturday Night Fish Fry by Louis Jordan from 1949 is not a rock ‘n’ roll song. I mean apart from vintage.

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