ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
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They would discover all the places with promise. / And didn’t need no
titles or deeds. Then they would appoint people to make everything legal,
to sanction the trickery and greed.
CDs by Gil-Scott Heron
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Books by Gil-Scott Heron
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Black History (audio)
By Gil Scott-Heron
I was wondering about our yesterdays, and digging through the rubble and to say, the least somebody went through a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure that when we looked things up we wouldn’t fair too well and we would come up with totally unreliable pictures of ourselves. But I compiled what few facts I could, I mean, such as they are, to see if we could find out a little bit of something and this is what I got so far: First, white folks discovered Africa they claimed it fair and square. Cecil Rhodes couldn’t have been robbing nobody
’cause, hell, there was nobody there. White folks brought all the civilization, cause there wasn’t none around. ‘how could the folks be civilized when nobody was writing nothing down?’ And just to prove all their suspicions, well, it didn’t take too long. They found out there were whole tribes of people in plain sight running around with no clothes on. That’s right! The men, the women, the young and old, righteous folks covered their eyes. And no time was spent considering the environment. Hell no! this just wasn’t civilized! And another piece of information they had or at least this is what we were taught is that unlike the civilized people of Europe these tribal units actually fought! And yes, there were some crude implements and yes, there was primitive art and yes they were masters of hunting and fishing and courtesy came from the heart. And yes there was love, and medicine, religion, inter-tribal communication by drum. But no paper no pencils no other utensils and hell, these folks never even heard of a gun. And this is why the colonies came to stabilize the land. Because the Dark Continent had copper and gold and the discoverers had themselves a plan. They would discover all the places with promise. And didn’t need no titles or deeds. Then they would appoint people to make everything legal, to sanction the trickery and greed. And back in the jungle when the natives got restless they would call it guerilla attack! and they would never describe that folks finally got wise and decided they would fight back. But still we are victims of word games, semantics is always a bitch: places once referred to as under-developed are now called mineral rich. And the game goes on eternally unity kept just beyond reach Egypt and Libya used to be in Africa, but they’ve now been moved to the Middle East. There are examples galore I assure you, but if interpreting was left up to me I’d be sure every time folks knew this version wasn’t mine which is why it is called His-story.
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Gil Scott-Heron, Spoken-Word Musician, Dies at 62By The Associated PressMay 27, 2011Musician Gil Scott-Heron, who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs such as “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” died Friday at age 62. A friend, Doris C. Nolan, who answered the telephone listed for his Manhattan recording company, said he died in the afternoon at St. Luke’s Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip. “We’re all sort of shattered,” she said. Scott-Heron’s influence on rap was such that he sometimes was referred to as the Godfather of Rap, a title he rejected.
“If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating ‘hooks,’ which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion,” he wrote in the introduction to his 1990 collection of poems, “Now and Then.” He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music. But then he said it was simply “black music or black American music.” “Because Black Americans are now a tremendously diverse essence of all the places we’ve come from and the music and rhythms we brought with us,” he wrote. . . .
Scott-Heron recorded the song that would make him famous, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” which critiqued mass media, for the album 125th and Lenox in Harlem in the 1970s. He followed up that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially collaborating with musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album was “I’m New Here,” which he began recording in 2007 and was released in 2010. Throughout his musical career, he took on political issues of his time, including apartheid in South Africa and nuclear arms. He had been shaped by the politics of the 1960s and the black literature, especially of the Harlem Renaissance.
Scott-Heron was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949. He was raised in Jackson, Tenn., and in New York before attending college at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Before turning to music, he was a novelist, at age 19, with the publication of The Vulture, a murder mystery.He also was the author of The Nigger Factory, a social satire.NYTimes
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Gil Scott-Heron was the bridge between The Black Arts Movement and Hip Hop. Surely we are from Allah and to Him we return.Marvin X
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Gil Scott-Heronb. 1 April 1949, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Raised in Jackson, Tennessee, by his grandmother, Scott-Heron moved to New York at the age of 13. His estranged father played for Glasgow Celtic, a Scottish football team. Astonishingly precocious, Scott-Heron had published two novels (The Vulture and The Nigger Factory) plus a book of poems (Small Talk At 125th And Lenox) by 1972.
He met musician Brian Jackson when both were students at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, and in 1970 they formed the Midnight Band to play their original blend of jazz, soul and prototype rap music. Small Talk At 125th And Lenox was mostly an album of poems (from his book of the same name), but later albums showed Scott-Heron developing into a skilled songwriter whose work was soon covered by other artists: for example, LaBelle recorded his “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and Esther Phillips made a gripping version of “Home Is Where The Hatred Is.”
In 1973, Scott-Heron had a minor hit with “The Bottle,” a song inspired by a group of alcoholics who congregated outside his and Jackson’s communal house in Washington, DC. Winter In America (on which Jackson was co-credited for the first time) and The First Minute Of A New Day, the latter for new label Arista Records, were both heavily jazz-influenced, but later sets saw Scott-Heron and Jackson exploring more pop-orientated formats, and in 1976 they scored a hit with the disco-based protest single, “Johannesburg”.
posted 14 September 2007
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Gil Scott-Heron is backand as challenging as everBy Patrick NeateWhen I suggest to Scott-Heron that his work has been a victim of his convictions, he responds with enthusiasm: Did we make people feel uncomfortable? Maybe we did, but thats for them to judge. Like I say, weve been heard of more than we been heard. So, if they felt uncomfortable, at least that would mean they heard it. . . .
As far as Im concerned, what we were doing was necessary. When we released Johannesburg, people didnt want to talk about South Africa; so we were taking a chance. I felt somebodys got to bring it up, but I didnt necessarily intend it to be me. I would have rather it was congressmen or those intended to talk about these things, but they wouldnt. But if my children were to ask me what Id said, I wanted to have an answer. Nowadays, there are more artists prepared to address these issues and that makes it harder to control. But then they could control it simply by removing my stuff from the shelves. And they did. Now theyd have to take out half the f***ing store. He laughs heartily. TimesOnline
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The Vulture and The Nigger Factory is an omnibus edition of the two highly successful novels from the early 1970s by one of America’s most outspoken and important postwar commentators on race, politics, and culture
Scott-Heron’s highly successful two novels are now packaged together for the first time. The Vulturefirst published in 1970 and digging the rhythms of the street, where the biggest deal life has to offer is getting high, The Vulture is a hip and fast-moving thriller. It relates the strange story of the murder of a teenage boy called John Leetelling it in the words of four men who knew him when he was just another kid working after school, hanging out, waiting for something to happen. Just who did kill John Lee and why?
Here lies a man with a kind heart and a good will. . . . All the nice comments that were whispered about you . . . were as worthless as the air that transported them from mouth to ear.
The Vulture relates the strange story of John Lees murdertelling it in the words of four men who knew him when he was just another kid working after school, hanging out, waiting for something to happen. Just who did kill John Lee and why? A hip and fast-moving thriller.
The Nigger Factory is a biting satire set on the campus of Sutton University, Virginia. The failure of Sutton to embrace the changing attitudes of the sixties has necessitated has caused disaffection among the black students and revolution is nigh.
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Gil Scott-Heron on You-Tube
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The 10 Best Gil Scott-Heron Songs
By Michael A. Gonzales
27 May 2012
1. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1971)
While the bare-bones original version was recorded live as a spoken-word poem on Gil's gritty first album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, the song was later re-recorded with a full band that brought the funk and the flutes. Years later, Nike jacked the instrumental track and made the revolution about basketball with KRS-One rockin' the mic, which somehow just proved Gil’s point all over again.
2. “Pieces of a Man” (1971)
The title track to Gil’s debut studio album was a fitting ode to broken Black men dealing with their issues. Former Rolling Stone critic Vince Aletti wrote that Heron sang with an ache in his voice that conveys pain, bitterness and tenderness. He wasn’t lying.
3. “Home is Where The Hatred Is” (1971)
Funky as hell, this sad tale of a junkie roaming the urban landscape of Any Ghetto, U.S.A. prophesied Heron’s own cracked-out existence two decades later. As Kanye West proved when he sampled the track on Common’s “My Way Home,” this track still feels just as powerful as it did more than forty years after its release.
4. “H20 Blues” (1974)
Recorded at D&B Sound studio outside of Washington, D.Cwhere Gil and musical partner Brian Jackson dwelledthis song was an aural attack on the scandalous politicians who populated his home turf. Aimed directly at Tricky Dick Nixon and his crew of crooked cronies, this Watergate-era song dropped the bomb.
5. “The Bottle” (1974)
Although Scott-Heron produced innovative music throughout his career, he wasn’t exactly a “singles” kind of guy. Still, this track about the the evils of drunkenness managed to climb to No. 15 on the R&B charts in 1974. While the song’s lyrics were serious as a pint of cheap gin, with its island groove and dope flute solo (courtesy of Brian Jackson) it was also quite danceable. According to music biz legend, the success of this track inspired Clive Davis to sign Scott-Heron to his newly formed Arista Records.
6. “Angel Dust” (1978
In the mid-1970s, a few years before the crack attack that ate New York City, angel dust became the killer-dilla drug of choice in hoods across America. Fly, funky and fantastic, this Gil Scott-Heron anti-drug song was pure dope.
7. “We Almost Lost Detroit” (1977)
Always on the cutting edge of political commentary, Gil made this track about the dangers of nuclear power after reading the John G. Fuller book about the Fermi power plant that suffered a near meltdown in 1966. Name-dropping murdered activist and whistle-blower Karen Silkwood in the lyrics, the song was remade by indie pop band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. earlier this year.
8. “Angola, Louisiana” (1978)
“It’s impossible to visit the place and not feel that a prisoner could disappear off the face of the earth and no one would ever know or care,” wrote New York Times journalist Peter Applebome in 1998 about Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. Known as one of the most brutal prison complexes in the country, Angola has more inmates on death row than any other facility in the country. Heron and Jackson wrote this track about the unfair imprisonment of black teenager Gary Tyler, who was jailed in 1975 after a 13-year-old white kid was killed during a riot. Although no weapon was found, Tyler was arrested for the crime. Supposedly beaten by police, he confessed and became the youngest person ever sentenced to death. Although no longer on death row, Tyler is still an inmate. While Brit artists UB40 (“Tyler”) and Chumbawamba (“Waiting for the Bus”) have since made songs about Tyler-but as in so many other cases, Gil Scott-Heron was the first
9. “Me and The Devil” 2010)
Most down-home music fans know the bugged tale about original guitar bluesman Robert Johnson, who supposedly sold his soul to the devil at them there Delta crossroads in exchange for mastering the axe. Like the iconic guitarist, Gil Scott-Heron also walked, talked and played mighty hard on the dark side. With his beautifully stark cover of Johnson’s classic “Me and the Devil,” he embraced that brooding blues lifestyle with a vengeance.
10. “I’ll Take Care of You” (2011)
Even when he was close to death after years of living on the edge, smoking crack and going to jail, Gil Scott-Heron was still capable of great recordings. Billed as his comeback in 2010, the album I’m New Here was hailed as one of the best recordings of his illustrious career. Gil’s gravelly version of this song, first made famous by old-school soul man Brook Benton, was remixed by Brit producer Jamie xx, who turned the track into a dance-floor sensation. More recently Drake and Rihanna had a huge hit that interpolated the song’s chorus.
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.
“Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”Lisa Adkins, University of London
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens. Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake.
She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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By Gil Scott Heron
Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King’s birthday ended up becoming a national holiday (“The Last Holiday because America can’t afford to have another national holiday”), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.
Gil uses Lennon’s violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King’s assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. Jamie Byng, Guardian /
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 29 May 2012