The Revolution Will Not Be Televised  

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"The Sarah Jones song "Your Revolution," a feminist interpretation of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" criticizing misogyny in hip hop (with the key line "Your revolution will not happen between these thighs"), was banned by the FCC."

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is a 1970 poem and song by Gil Scott-Heron. It is a protest song and an early example of rapping. Timothy Leary's phrase "turn on, tune in, drop out" is referenced as "plug in, turn on and cop out.". It is a critique of television.

Contents

History

Original versions

It first appeared on the 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, on which Scott-Heron recited the piece, accompanied only by congas and bongo drums.

A re-recorded version, this time with a full band, appeared on the 1971 album Pieces of a Man, and on the double A-sided single "Home Is Where The Hatred Is"/"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."

All these releases were issued on the Flying Dutchman Productions label. The piece's name was also used as the title to Scott-Heron's "Best of" album, issued in 1998 by RCA.

References

The poem is notable for its extensive political and cultural references, many of which may be unknown today. The list below links to some of the references Scott-Heron makes.

Covers and allusions

The song has been covered, sampled, and parodied extensively.

In the 90s, the words for the poem were memorably sampled by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

The song was covered by The Last Poets as the title track for one of their albums.

Soul Rebels, a house music project created by vocalist Roland Clark, has covered the song in a dance version.

Genaside II wrote a song called "The Genaside Will Not Be Televised" that brings together different aspects of the revolution. It is on the group's album Ad Finite.

British acid jazz group Smoove and dub band Brooklyn Funk Essentials parodied the song with their respective tracks "The Revolution Will Be Televised" and "The Revolution was Postponed Because Of Rain".

Hip-hop artist Aesop Rock has also parodied the work, in his song "Coma" from Labor Days, "If the revolution ain't gon' be televised, then, fuck, I'll probably miss it." He later paid homage to the track on his LP "Bazooka Tooth," with the song "We're Famous" and the line, "The revolution will not be apologized for."

British funk/jazz group Jamiroquai also claim "the revolution will be televised" in their track "The Kids" from their second album, The Return of the Space Cowboy, with singer Jay Kay adding "Yes, it will, Gil" as an ad lib.

Elvis Costello's song "Invasion Hit Parade" from his 1991 album Mighty Like a Rose contains the lines "Incidentally the revolution will be televised/ With one head for business and another for good looks/ Until they started arriving with their rubber aprons and their butcher's hooks"[2], a clear (but opposite) allusion to the song.

The hip-hop group Public Enemy used the phrase "The revolution will not be televised" in the opening to its 1987 album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

Hip-hop artist Common used the term as an intro to his 2000 single "The 6th Sense" ("The revolution will not be televised; the revolution is here.").

Cee-lo Green uses a twist of the phrase on the song "Big Ole Words" [Cee-lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections] when he says: "The powers that be will be beaten into submission/ And you WILL be able to see my revolution on television."

Pop star Prince made extensive reference to this poem in his 1998 single "The War", a 26-minute noise jam/spoken word piece, in which a chant of "evolution will be colorized" is heard.

The title track of Talib Kweli's "Beautiful Struggle" contains a reference. The opening verse begins with "Yo, I heard it's said the revolution won't be televised / But in the land of milk and honey there's a date you gotta sell it by." In its chorus, it's said, "The revolution is here."

The Pulp album This Is Hardcore finishes with the track The Day After The Revolution, which suggests that the revolution will be televised but everyone will miss it ("The revolution was televised / Now it's over, bye bye").

Dana Bryant contributed a version of the song with updated lyrics to the 1993 FFRR compilation Giant Steps Volume One, substituting, for example, MC Hammer and "Just Do It" for some of Scott-Heron's original references.

The rock band Piebald released an EP called The Rock Revolution Will Not Be Televised in 2000. The title track contains the lyrics "Can't you see by the look in our eyes that the rock revolution won't be televised?"

In 1993, the Welsh hip hop and electronica duo Llwybr Llaethog released a Welsh language version called "Fydd y Chwildro ddim ar y Teledu, Cyfaill" together with the poet Ifor ap Glyn.

In the 2003 album "The Il2 word" by the California based hip hop duo Seekret Socyetee contained a track, "Revolution", which takes influence from this.

In 2004, the Mexican hip hop and rock group Molotov released a Spanish-language version called "La Revolución."

In 2004, gay cabaret duo Kiki and Herb performed the song as part of a medley called "The Revolution Medley" in their sold-out "farewell" performance at Carnegie Hall. The concert, including the medley, was recorded and released as a double-album in 2005, Kiki and Herb Will Die for You: Live at Carnegie Hall.

Steve Earle played the Gil Scott-Heron recording immediately before the start of his set on tour dates in support of his 2004 album, The Revolution Starts Now.

In 2006 Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis parodied the poem's title with a collection of comics entitled "The Ratvolution Will Not Be Televised".

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, a documentary by Irish filmmakers, chronicles the April 11, 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

The NOFX song "The Marxist Brothers" (off their EP Never Trust a Hippie and album Wolves in Wolves' Clothing) mocks pseudo-intellectual leftism and vaguely alludes to Scott-Heron's song with the line "The people's revolution is going to be a podcast."

The opening few bars of the 2006 Damian Marley (son of Bob Marley and Cindy Breakspeare) and Bobby Brown song "Beautiful" include the phrase "the revolution will be televised, feel me."

In the early 1990s, hip-hop/rap artist KRS-One did a re-imagining of the song using different lyrics for a Nike commercial.

In an episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert stated that "The Revolution Will Not Be Verified," in reference to a revolution replacing facts and reality with "wikiality" by creating a truth by consensus.

Matthew Good's song "21st Century Living" contradicts the original with the line, "Our ambition will televise the revolution, and it'll sell more fucking commercial spots than the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the World Series, and the Tragedy Du Jour combined."

BT and Rasco produced a song with updated lyrics: "The revolution will fought on all forms of media/ It will be fought on phone wires/ On cable modems" apparently in an attempt to maintain the same spirit of the original song. The song was released on both 10 Years in the Life in 2002 and the soundtrack album to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Apple's release of the Apple TV carried the tag-line "The Revolution Will Be Televised."

Wu-Tang Clan's song "Wu-revolution" on their Wu-Tang Forever album contains the lyric "Yeah, the revolution should be, televised."

Clothing company howies suggest in their spring 2007 artwork that "The revolution will not be televised, it will be blogged."

In 2005, the French group Expérience covers the song under the name "La révolution ne sera pas télévisée" (French for The Revolution Will Not Be Televised), in their Positive Karaoke with a Gun / Negative Karaoke with a Smile album.

The song "Ignorance Is Beautiful" by Kyprios of the group Sweatshop Union begins with the lines "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, and the television will not be revolutionized..."

The 2007 album Lionheart: Tussle with the Beast by UK Hip-Hop act Klashnekoff contains a track called "The Revoloution (Will Not Be Televised On Channel U)" which contains excerpts from Gil Scott-Heron's original song.

In 2007, an advertising campaign for Comedy Central's new acquisition of the animated science fiction series Futurama utilized the refrain "The future will..." spoken by a Heron soundalike and a beat similar to Heron's original song.

In the song "My Wallpaper Looks Like Paint" by Philadelphia punk rock band None More Black, the title of the poem is used, saying "The revolution won't be televised, 'cause it's in the morning drive."

British hard rock band The Wildhearts recorded a song titled "The Revolution Will Be Televised" for their 2007 self-titled album.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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