Gil Scott-Heron: Trust The Audience

Gil Scott-Heron — author, singer, songwriter, teacher, poet, polemicist — died over the weekend. This morning, I re-read one of his final interviews, and this wise remark jumped out: ““I learnt early on that your audience take the songs in the way they want to rather than the way you might want them too,” he says. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” – that was satire. People would try and argue that it was this militant message, but just how militant can you really be when you’re saying, ‘The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner’? My songs were always about the tone of voice rather than the words. A good comic will deliver a line deadpan – they let the audience laugh.”

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