Monday, 30 May 2011
[R.I.P] Gil Scott Heron
I was a late bloomer by the time Gil's music blessed my ears, thinking in hindsight, I am happy that Gil's work arrived in my life when it did because I doubt whether I would have made much sense of it in my younger days. I seem to find myself listening back to albums i purchased in 1997/8/6 etc and finding that it has a different meaning now, its not all about the beat, but also the words.
Personally, I had two Gil moments and the rest is pretty much history.
The first one being his track off of the "Pieces Of A Man" release Titled "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" Home being a metaphor for a harsh reality. Musically, it is infectious, guaranteed to have you nodding your head and playing as if you were a part of the band however, when you strip the instrumentation and pay attention to the words, you will hear the battle he goes through, key lines like "Home is where the needle marks, tried to heal my broken heart" for me though, the line "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 could watch you die". So much pain, frustration explored in this one song had me curious, questioning how one must feel to detail all of that in a song. The beauty about writing is dishing your thoughts on paper, literally shedding all, this at times is not the easiest thing to do.
My second moment was actually having the opportunity to watch Gil live last year at Somerset House.
The First thing I noticed was the amount of people that came out to watch this man, I am talking all race, generations, it was just beautiful. The second thing I noticed when he came out was how old he looked, almost so fragile, my immediate thoughts was for him to sit down, however, this man stood for the whole set (baring when he played piano). The last thing I noticed was his Voice! please understand that this mans voice cannot be replicated nor reinvented, he carries a natural presence (aka swagger) but when he started singing, it rippled through me. His voice is so powerful and yet soothing.
He was a funny guy on stage, so much personality. He was also an educator, he spoke to us about Jazz and how the term "Jazz" came about, to my knowledge it also involved brothels and some naughty goings on lol (I think I need to ask Nat for a quick memory jig). He done one thing though that I took on board in my performances now, Whenever he performed with his band and he asked them for solos, he left the stage so that the focus is on them rather than him.
The day soon turned to night, a warm breeze, lighters flicked and Gil's voice filtering through the sky. Beautiful.
I am glad I saw Gil Live, he is a Poet, A singer, and most importantly, a musician. I cant sing for nothing (I try) but a musician is something I aspire to be.
I am also happy that his music lives on and is refixed to capture a new generation. please see below as to what I mean.
Gil Scott Heron
Rest in Peace