follow us in feedly
Gil Scott Heron was right - the Revolution will NOT be Televised

So I’ve been trying to sum up how I feel about Occupy Wall Street and the media coverage (or non-coverage) of the demonstrations the last few days, when I found this clip and realised that one of the most brilliant poets of the last hundred years had already summed it up perfectly. Of course.

I was gonna say that the oldstream media has been over for me since 2000, when I saw some peaceful protests badly misreported on TV and in the papers. I wanted to mention how my obsession with this summer’s “Murdochgate” sprang from a desire to see the established news channels I detest so much crumble, to lose all respect with their audience through their refusal to cover a story with such huge significance. I’ve been struggling to express how we don’t need validation through a mainstream that has always ignored us or deliberately misrepresented us, that people shouldn’t worry too much, the message is getting out there loud and clear.

But fuck it. Gil Scott Heron beat me to the punch (hard) thirty years ago. 

This incredible recording of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (as a spoken monologue with no music and some ad libs) is from 1982. It was performed at the Black Wax Club in Washington DC, as part of a documentary film on Scott Heron called Black Wax. His voice is a thing of rich, easy-going beauty but his words are like dynamite. Yeah, the times and technology may have changed, but this is still so prescient and just so damn relevant it’s amazing.

Gil Scott Heron died only four short months ago, and it’s a real pity he can’t be around now to see the people of his home town out on their streets and taking direct action, how he can’t be there himself to rally the crowds with this incredible monologue and share his no doubt sharp-as-a-pin insights into politics and society. It’s true - sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. But we DO still have this recording, and I hope that everyone, including all the people involved with the protests in New York, gets to hear it.

Because the revolution will NOT be televised.



You will not be able to stay home brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
and skip out for beer during the commercials because
The revolution will not be televised.

You see, a lot of time people see battles and skirmishes on TV and they say
“aha the revolution is being televised”. Nah.
The results of the revolution are being televised.

The first revolution is when you change your mind about how you look at things, and see there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown.
What you see later on is the results of that, but that revolution, that change that takes place will not be televised.

It will not be brought to you by Xerox in four parts without commercial interruptions.
It will not be brought to you by the Schaeffer Award Theatre or Miller Lite.
Starring Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be back after a message about white lightning, white tornados or white people.
You will not have to worry about the dove in your bedroom, the tiger in your tanks or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs, the revolution will not make you look like you lost five pounds.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of you and Willy Mae pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able to predict the winner at 8:32 on reports from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb or Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Tom Jones, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash or Englebert Humperdink.
Nor none of the other little Humperdinks should there be any.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.

The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.
The revolution will not be televised,
will not be televised,
there will be no re-run brothers and sisters


Black Wax intro

More from the excellent Black Wax

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile



comments powered by Disqus