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Ron Carter Reflects on Gil Scott-Heron

The legendary bassist on the sessions that became "Pieces of a Man"

Gil Scott-Heron
Gil Scott-Heron, late 1970s (photo: Gary Price)

I didn’t know Gil Scott-Heron when I got the call to play with him. They just told me that this guy was coming in, this poet, and he wanted to record, but he would only record if I was available. I said, “The guy’s got a band already. Why would he want to do that?” But they said, “No, those are the conditions. He wants you for the record.” So I said OK and I met him and we made the record with “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” That song was a template for his work, but his other songs are equally important, in that they’re pointed and there’s a great deal of intellectual logic involved.

I thought he was great with wordology, his concept of how spoken word can work if you have the right words in a row. He was also dealing with topics that were not being dealt with. No one was putting those issues to music. You had the usual angry poet and the soapbox guy down on the corner with his point of view, but this was the first time I’d ever heard anyone who was able to voice those sentiments in rhymes that were really meaningful.

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