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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is a poem and song by Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron first recorded it for his 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, on which he recited the lyrics, accompanied by congas and bongo drums. A re-recorded version, with a full band, was the B-side to Scott-Heron's first single, "Home Is Where the Hatred Is", from his album Pieces of a Man (1971). It was also included on his compilation album, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1974). All these releases were issued on the Flying Dutchman Productions record label.

The song's title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s protest movements in the United States.[1]

The song appears in the 1999 Denzel Washington and Norman Jewison film The Hurricane and on its soundtrack.[2]

In 2010, the New Statesman listed it as one of the “Top 20 Political Songs”.[3]

In an interview Scott-Heron said of the song "That song was about your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move...The thing that's going to change people will be something that no one will ever be able to capture on film. It will just be something you see and all of a sudden you realize 'I'm on the wrong page.'"[4]

In June 2013 a sign was posted on a window inside the Greek state broadcaster ERT as employees resisted its closure by the government under pressure by the "troika" of EU, ECB and IMF to cut public spending under their austerity regime.

Cultural references[edit]

Covers and allusions[edit]

  • Roy Clark's 1972 song "The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka" alludes to the song in its title. Scott-Heron had accurately predicted that as part of the revolution, several TV shows (mentioned above) that were popular with rural audiences would no longer be relevant; indeed, all but one of them had been canceled by 1971 as part of a programming strategy known as the rural purge. Nevertheless, two such shows, the subjects of Clark's response, survived and thrived by entering syndication, countering the revolution.
  • In the beginning of Hip hop artist Common's song "The 6th Sense" from the 2000 album, Like Water for Chocolate he states "The revolution will not be televised, the revolution is here."[8]
  • 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,"[9] an allusion to the song.
  • The Sarah Jones song "Your Revolution," a feminist interpretation of the song criticizing misogyny in mainstream hip hop, with the key line "Your revolution will not happen between these thighs"). A radio station that played the song was fined by the FCC.[10]
  • In the mid-1990s, hip-hop/rap artist KRS-One recorded a re-imagining of the song using different lyrics, written by Wieden+Kennedy copywriter Stacy Wall, for "Revolution," a Jake Scott-directed Nike commercial featuring Jason KiddJim JacksonEddie JonesJoe Smith, and Kevin Garnett.[11]
  • The opening line of "Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach", performed by Snoop Dogg on the Gorillaz album Plastic Beach, is "The revolution will be televised".[12][13]
  • A cover was recorded by singing trio Labelle as part of a two-part medley for their 1973 album, Pressure Cookin'.[14]
  • Molotov, a Mexican Rock Band with political inspirations, have recorded a cover entitled "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (La Revo)" for their 2004 album "Con Todo Respeto." They translated the lyrics to Spanish and added their own lyrics that applied to the social context in Mexico.
  • On their 1999 album "Ad Finité" the band Genaside II has a song called " The Genaside Will Not Be Televised", where some words of the original text were changed, such as different film actors being named.[15]
  • Christian folk singer Josh Garrels references the poem in "The Resistance," a song about the return of Christ from his 2011 album, Love & War & The Sea In Between, saying, "the liberation will not be televised / when it arrives like lightning in the skies."
  • In 1998, Prince's band The New Power Generation released a 1998 one-off single entitled "The War", where the title track's hook repeats a paraphrasing of the title: "One, two; the revolution will be colorized..."