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Gil Scott-Heron: Winter In America, 50th Anniversary


Major Contributor
Mar 17, 2022
One day, years ago, in my first Private Chef job, my employer encouraged me to use their Sonos system and built in Speakers to listen to Music while I worked. This was all new to me back then. I don't know what service it was based on, but some playlist I started listening to on that streaming service had this amazing song. I had never heard the voice, never heard the track and didn't know the name or what he meant to the history of Music. I was captivated.
Of course we all know that Music is almost too large to know everything, but that never stopped me from trying during my days in Music School or as a student of Jazz and then Rock'N'Roll.

For those unfamiliar, Gil Scott-Heron is a voice you should know. Sometimes viewed as the godfather of Hip-Hop because of his poetry and spoken word recordings over music, he is also one of the most underrated musicians telling the story of being Black in America (especially urban America) during the contentious time of striving for Civil Rights, the war in Vietnam and so much else.

Recorded in Autumn of 1973 and released in May '74, Winter in America is a seminal album by Gil and his long time associate, Brian Jackson. Together, these two put together some truly outstanding music that deserves to be considered along with the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and so many others whose messages of social consciousness, equality, and community for the Black population made it somewhat fringe at the time.

Following is the playlist for Winter In America (and linked in case the media link is broken somehow).

The Song that first captivated me so much is the second track on this Album, Rivers Of My Fathers. Also on this Album is one of his most popular cuts, The Bottle.

I hope some of you may choose to give this a play and hope you enjoy!
Can’t disagree with a single word you wrote. It’s an absolute masterpiece and we sorely ”need” a Gil Scott Heron today with our political climate but alas……I don’t see anyone fit to step into that role

Bought quite a few albums for my mates son Xmas (he’s 16) including “Winter in America” along with “What’s going on” amongst 4 others and he loves them,
"Black Wax", from 1983 is well worth a watch. His amusing walking tour of Washington DC. Plus great live music footage... "B Movie", being a particular fave of mine.

Saw him at Glastonbury in 1986. Still one of my favourite live music days ever.
With all the shit going on in today's crazy world, Gills "Spirits" basically sums up how music can open up your emotions to rage,contempt and accept it just is what it is.
I brought the CD second hand in the mid 1990's and related to what was happening in my county at the time.
I was ripping my CD collection and played this in full as a rediscovery. Great recording.
Nothing changes
Great post. My favourite Gil Scott- Heron track is the one that I first heard, which introduced me to his music.

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