Gil Scott-Heron – Top 25 Quotes

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With all of the violence and unrest in the United States, I just wanted to touch on a few quotes from a great man whom I admired, not only for his music but for also his quotes, poetry, and work as a humanitarian.  Here are 25 quotes from the Legendary Gil Scott – Heron.

Gilbert Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011) was an American soul and jazz poet, musician, and author, known primarily for his work as a spoken-word performer in the 1970s and 1980s. His collaborative efforts with musician Brian Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. His own term for himself was “Bluesology”, which he defined as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues”.His music, most notably on the albums Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and foreshadowed later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. Scott-Heron is considered by many to be the first rapper/MC ever. His recording work received much critical acclaim, especially one of his best-known compositions, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. AllMusic’s John Bush called him “one of the most important progenitors of rap music,” stating that “his aggressive, no-nonsense street poetry inspired a legion of intelligent rappers while his engaging songwriting skills placed him square in the R&B charts later in his career.

Scott-Heron remained active until his death, and in 2010 released his first new album in 16 years, entitled I’m New Here. A memoir he had been working on for years up to the time of his death, The Last Holiday, was published posthumously in January 2012. Scott-Heron received a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. He also is included in the exhibits at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) that officially opened on September 24, 2016, on the National Mall, and in an NMAAHC publication, Dream a World Anew.


1. Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something.

2. The first revolution is when you change your mind

3. You will not be able to stay home, brother./You will not be able to plugin, turn on and cop out. / You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,/Skip out for beer during commercials,/Because the revolution will not be televised.

4. America .. the international Jekyll and Hyde … the land of a thousand disguises, sneaks up on you but rarely surprises

5. I am a black man dedicated to expression; expression of the joy and pride of blackness. I consider myself neither poet, composer, or musician. These are merely tools used by sensitive men to carve out a piece of beauty or truth that they hope may lead to peace and salvation.

6. Music has the power to make me feel good like nothing else does. It gives me some peace for a while. Takes me back to who I really am.

7. The way you get to know yourself is by the expressions on other people’s faces, because that’s the only thing that you can see, unless you carry a mirror about.

8. Man is a complex being: he makes deserts bloom – and lakes die.

9. I’ve always had questions about what it meant to be a protester, to be in the minority. Are the people who are trying to find peace, who are trying to have the Constitution apply to everybody, are they really the radicals? We’re not protesting from the outside. We’re inside.

10. If someone comes to you and asks for help, and you can help them, you’re supposed to help them. Why wouldn’t you? You have been put in the position somehow to be able to help this person.

11. A good poet feels what his community feels.
Like if you stub your toe, the rest of your body hurts.

12. The revolution will be no re-run brothers,
The revolution will be live.

13. I don’t mind being criticized. I enjoy being criticized personally, not by rumor.

14. I try not to take people who haven’t really thought out what they’re doing too seriously. I try not to let them get in the way of what I feel I need to do.

15. All the dreams you show up in are not your own.

16. The revolution that takes place in your head, nobody will ever see that.

17. If we meet somebody who has never made a mistake, lets help them start a religion. Until then, were just going to meet other humans and help to make each other better.

18. You see Martin Luther King is dead and Huey Newton is not. And Malcolm X is dead and Bobby Seale is not. And Vernon Jordan was shot. The thing that revolutionaries, or even people who want to claim they’re revolutionaries, often forget is that it doesn’t make no difference what kind of wardrobe you wear, and if you speak up about Black people doing better you just risked your life.

19. Colour is not the issue in America; class is.

20. Paul Robeson once said that the artist has the responsibility to either help liberate the community or further oppress it. And I think that when Eldridge Cleaver wrote it down it was interpreted as his, but there’s a history of people saying things of that nature and meaning it. And what I do is in that tradition, in that mode.

21. Everything that’s bad for you catches on too quickly in America, because that’s the easiest thing to get people to invest in, the pursuits that are easy and destructive, the ones that bring out the least positive aspects of people.

22. Womenfolk raised me and I was full-grown before I knew I came from a broken home

23. I think that the more people who speak out, and say things and take stands on positions that will better our community, the better off each and every other individual artist or otherwise, will be.

24. The revolution will not be televised.

25. We understand what the difference is between what we understand and what the community understands about what we’re doing because they have supported us long enough for me to stay out here, while other people who are doing other things have not. A lot of people have trouble pinning down what it is we do and how. But we don’t have any trouble with that. As long as that’s their problem, it’s their problem.

One thought on “Gil Scott-Heron – Top 25 Quotes

  1. “Womenfolk raised me and I was full-grown before I knew I came from a broken home”… I love that. My mom and sister raised me and I didnt’ know any difference.