365 Days of Album Recommendations – Jan 16

Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man

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There are SO many reasons to recommend this album. So many.

So many, that I’ll probably have to recommend it again later in the year, just so I can talk about it again.

But there is a VERY special reason to recommend it today.

In 1968, a bill was proposed, with the goal of creating a national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It would take until 1979, and the endorsement of Jimmy Carter, for that bill to actually enter the US House of Representatives. It failed.

In 1981, noting a “disturbing drift in the country towards war, bigotry, poverty and hatred,” Stevie Wonder took it upon himself to get the bill into law, tapping into the support of union leaders and workers, and citizens across the company who were signing petitions in support of the bill. He wrote and performed a song for the cause, entitled “Happy Birthday.” He hosted and performed at the Rally for Peace Press Conference.

He took his mission on tour, determined to build irrefutable support for the bill. His original plan was to tour with Bob Marley. But Marley’s cancer put him in the hospital, where he died just six months later. Marley couldn’t do the tour. So who did Stevie get to replace him?

Gil Scott-Heron!

The man who wrote “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” The man who wrote “Home Is Where The Hatred Is.” The man who wrote “Lady Day and John Coltrane.” THAT is who replaced Bob Marley on the tour that helped establish a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Despite initially opposing it, Ronald Reagan ultimately signed the bill in 1983, and established Martin Luther King, Jr. day as a national holiday.

And THAT is why I am recommending this album today.

Recommended track to start with: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Because, obviously.

The revolution will not be right back
after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

 


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