For the community in Auburn, Alabama, see The Bottle, Alabama.
The Bottle
{{{Type}}} by Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson
Released 1974
Recorded October 15, 1973
D&B Sound
(Silver Spring, Maryland)
Genre Soul, jazz-funk
Length 5:14
Label Strata-East
Producer Perpis-Fall Music
Gil Scott-Heron chronology
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
"The Bottle"

"The Bottle" is a song by American soul artist Gil Scott-Heron and musician Brian Jackson, released in 1974 on Strata-East Records in the United States. It was later reissued during the mid-1980s on Champagne Records in the United Kingdom. "The Bottle" was written by Scott-Heron and produced by audio engineer Jose Williams, Jackson, and Scott-Heron. The song serves is a social commentary on alcohol abuse, and it features a Caribbean beat and notable flute solo by Jackson, with Scott-Heron playing keyboards.

The song was issued as the first and only single for Scott-Heron's and Jackson's album Winter in America (1974). It became an underground and cult hit upon its release, and the single peaked at number 15 on the R&B Singles Chart. Described by music critics as the album's best recording, the commercial success of "The Bottle" helped lead to Jackson's and Scott-Heron's next recording contract with Arista Records. Similar to other compositions by Scott-Heron, the song has been sampled extensively by hip hop artists.


"The Bottle"

Cited by critics as its album's best recording, the song is a rhythmic social commentary on alcohol abuse.
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"The Bottle" is a social commentary on alcohol abuse with a Caribbean beat.[1] Scott-Heron wrote it after seeing men line up every day in front of a liquor store called the Log Cabin, bringing back their empty bottles to get a discount on their next purchase.[2] Scott-Heron said of his inspiration for the song in an interview for Newsnight, "I discovered one of them was an ex-physician, who'd been busted for abortions on young girls. There was an air traffic controller in the military - one day he sent two jets crashing into a mountain. He left work that day and never went back."[2]

The song also became a popular song played at parties at the time. French music critic Pierre Jean-Critin later described it as "an epic song ... whose infectious groove can still set dance floors alight over thirty years later."[1] The song's pop/dance sensibilities and social message engendered its appeal to listeners following its release as a single. Scott-Heron later said of the single's success and style, "Pop music doesn't necessarily have to be shit."[1]

Cited by critics and music writers as Winter in America '​s best recording, "The Bottle" also addresses problems of drug addiction, abortion, and incarceration, while featuring Jackson on flute and Scott-Heron on keyboards.[1][3] While its theme examines the plight of alcoholics and those who have to live with and cope with them, "The Bottle" became a concert favorite and one of Scott-Heron's most popular songs.[4]

Release and reception

"The Bottle" was released in 1974 as the only single for Winter in America. The song became an underground and cult hit upon its release.[5] Soon after, it also became one of Scott-Heron's most successful singles, as it reached the number 15 spot on the R&B Singles Chart.[3] The single's success helped lead to Jackson's and Scott-Heron's next recording contract with Arista Records, where they would enjoy more commercial success.[6]

"The Bottle" has been cited by critics as Winter in America's best recording.[7] Paul J. MacArthur of the Houston Press called it a "strong anti-alcohol rant with a funky bass hook and chilly flute fills."[7] "The Bottle" was later ranked number 92 on NME's list of The Top 150 Singles of All-Time and was included in Q magazine's 1010 Songs You Must Own! publication.[8]

Track listings and formats

These are the formats and track listings of the U.K. single releases of "The Bottle":[9][10]

Template:Col-start | width="50%" align="left" valign="top" |

7" Single

  1. "The Bottle" (Album version)
  1. "The Bottle" (Sober mix)

| width="50%" align="left" valign="top" |

12" Single

  1. "The Bottle" (Drunken mix)
  1. "The Bottle" (Short version)
  2. "The Bottle" (Sober mix)



  • Gil Scott-Heronlead vocals, electric piano
  • Brian Jacksonflute
  • Danny Bowens – bass
  • Bob Adams – drums
  • Perpis-Fall Music, Inc.producer
  • Jose Williams – engineer, production assistance


Billboard Music Charts (North America) – "The Bottle"[3]

  • 1974: Top R&B Singles – #15


Joe Bataan covered "The Bottle" for his 1975 album Afrofilipino, though slightly re-titled "The Bottle (La Botella)".[11]

The Christians covered "The Bottle" for their 1992 album "Happy In Hell". [12]

Paul Weller covered "The Bottle" for his 2004 album "Studio 150". [13]

The group Template:Brother To Brother covered "The Bottle" or "In The Bottle" for their 1974 album "In The Bottle"


  1. Jean-Critin (2001), p. 2.
  2. 2.02.1 Stephen Smith, "The Legendary Godfather of Rap Returns" BBC News (November 16, 2009). Retrieved June 7, 2011
  3. 20 People Who Changed Black Music – Revolutionary Poet Gil Scott-Heron, the First Rap Rebel. The Miami Herald Media Company. Retrieved on July 20, 2008.
  4. "Review of Winter in America". Soul Music: January 12, 2009.
  5. Gil Scott-Heron at All About Jazz. All About Jazz. Retrieved on July 10, 2008.
  6. "Gil Scott-Heron: American Visions - Find Articles at BNET". CNET Networks, Inc.. Retrieved 2008-07-10. Template:Dead link
  7. 7.07.1 Catching Up with Gil - Music - Houston Press. Village Voice Media. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved on July 10, 2008.
  8. Acclaimed Music - The Bottle. Acclaimed Music. Retrieved on July 8, 2008.
  9. - Gil Scott-Heron / Brian Jackson* - The Bottle (7"). Discogs. Retrieved on 2008-08-24.
  10. - Gil Scott-Heron / Brian Jackson* - The Bottle (12"). Discogs. Retrieved on 2008-08-24.
  11. Bataan* - The Bottle (La Botella) (2009-06-10). Retrieved on October 9, 2016.
  12. The Christians - Happy In Hell. Retrieved on October 9, 2016.
  13. Paul Weller - Studio 150 (CD, Album). Retrieved on October 9, 2016.


  • Gil Scott-Heron, Pierre Jean-Critin (2001). Winter in America (Charly) CD reissue booklet. liner notes. Charly Licensing Aps/Artistry Music Ltd./Snapper Music Plc., London, UK.
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