Friday, April 1, 2011

Wash Your Troubles Away

The music we love becomes the soundtrack to our lives. Not a very original thought, I know, but facts is facts. Over the course of my life so far, I've been very fortunate to have discovered a lot of music. Or rather, at times, it's seemed that the music has found me.

One artist I return to often in CD spins and playlist creation is Gil Scott-Heron (b. April 1, 1949). If you only know him as the man behind "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," you are missing out.

His first studio album, Pieces Of A Man, released in 1971 initially received only modest critical response. The album looked unblinkingly at issues such as race relations, the breakdown of families, drug use, self respect, and the power of music to communicate and heal. The power of the compositions and particularly Scott-Heron's intensely personal vocal delivery has forced many reassessments since it's release.

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is the easy track to highlight and has even been called the birth of rap, but rap, hip-hop, neo-soul, and dance all owe huge debts of gratitude to all the tracks on Pieces Of A Man. It fostered styles and conventions that are now so common place that it's easy to forget how groundbreaking it was upon release.

And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Gil Scott-Heron. His music has been the backdrop to many critical points in my life. Highs and lows, ups and downs, his music has enhanced the good times and helped me through the bad.

Happy birthday, Gil! And thank you.



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