Gil Scott-Heron RIP
Last edited by Lateralthinking1; 28-05-11 at 15:36.
He's new there.
And will be truly missed here.
Morning Paul. We note sadness on occasions like these. I feel really upset about this one. His songs have been so close to me at key points in my life and are also associated with people long gone.
I just wish that I hadn't had to miss Womad last year and yet am so grateful that I saw him at the Anti-Apartheid Concert in 1986. That was my first ever outdoor music event. I really wanted to see him again.
I caught a few minutes of Robert Elms on BBC Radio London yesterday. He featured Gil and I didn't hear the beginning. I am now wondering whether it was timely. Think Robert has a programme on Saturday mornings but I am not sure if it is live or recordings of the past week. If it is live, there will certainly be tributes.
Must admit I respected, rather than liked GSH, finding his voice too macho for my taste. I wonder whether the beeb will commemorate him, and where. He seemed to fall between genres, and maybe would be considered old-fashioned for Radio 1. Radio 2, perhaps?
Serial_Apologist - Thank you for your comments. I am a bit surprised to hear you describe his voice as macho because to me it displayed a rare sensitivity that wholly complemented the lyrics and the music.
I would certainly hope to see something on BBC4. As for radio, I would imagine R2 and 6Music. Think the coverage so far has been understated given his significance to such a wide range of people.
From a personal point of view, I always had an identification with his relationship with Lillie Scott. My maternal grandmother was a pivotal figure in my younger life and she had a central role in the family as well as being a real character. It isn't usual for a lyricist, particularly one considered by many "cool", to write about his grandmother.
There are many other associations. "Pieces of a Man", my very favourite track, took on a new meaning when I myself became unemployed.
I checked the release dates of his first records. Like Dylan, he showed an amazing maturity in his reflections at the age of 20 and 21. While very much of his age, he was arguably also in his fifties in his brain then. That, I think, was a very big burden. Our 30-something celebrities still seem like little kids to me emotionally. I do hope we shall see his like again - Lat.
Last edited by Lateralthinking1; 28-05-11 at 12:34.
Seeing GSH at Womad was a particularly emotional experience for me. And I think that was because it
felt so remarkable that he was there at all.
And now, he's gone.
It's happened before. One time, with Townes Van Zandt.
Paul - I really appreciated your description of it a few months ago. I wonder if anyone filmed it? I have been to the garden centre today and then been putting in some plants. Other than that, I have been going through the radio stations and there seems so little about him. I am about to check to see if Cerys was on this morning and whether she did a piece. In any case, I guess we might have more in the coming days. It was just terrific that he managed to get that last album out after 16 years. It was a triumph. I just wish I had been there last year though.
(I guess my sort of parallel live experience to the ones you describe was Arthur Lee in Spain. He was all over the place when I saw him. Rick James had just died and he was troubled by it throughout the gig. The music though still shone through somehow, then he was gone not that long afterwards). - Lat.
Womad was filmed - but only by the folks in the crowd, sadly. Here's one item which should lead to others.
I've got two or three still images from the gig, which I'm not displeased with.
Thank you so much for that clip. Knowing that stage well, as I do, I can sense the electricity there. I am not sure that I would have anticipated in the moment the musical intimacy of him being there without any backing musicians. That would have added to the experience. One of the greatest live experiences is seeing just one artist on the stage - there is a bravery to such a performance often combined with justifiable confidence, particularly in Gil's case when you think of all the things he was coming back from. Maybe understandably, towards the end, wrapped around the jazz voice was the voice of the blues.
People speak of the irony about a life which was often sadly at odds with the message. I see it rather differently. There is a point where a genuine caring for the human condition makes that condition so hard to bear that the condition turns inwards. I don't know the particular circumstances around his imprisonment but one might have thought that a poet of a certain age who had contributed so much to people's lives might have been spared it. For all of the turmoil, what I like is that the humour was still there at the end along with a sharp intelligence, normality and concern.