GIL SCOTT-HERON / “Blue Collar”

MP3 01 Blue Collar.mp3 (10.55 MB)

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4 Responses to “GIL SCOTT-HERON / “Blue Collar””

The Magnificent Goldberg Says:
October 21st, 2007 at 4:21 am

I noticed GSH’s albums around in the seventies, but I got the impression that he was a bit too young to know what he was doing (can’t be right ALL the time; shrug). Anyway, I saw him on TV in ’83; a live gig in which he did a real production on “B-movie”, in which he had waxworks dummies of John Wayne and a cigar store Indian etc on stage with Raygun. I was absolutely WITH him there and became a fan. We’d already had nearly four years of Thatcher by then and clearly Raygun was going to make things worse.

“Moving target” was the last album of his that I bought. He was out of it for a while – I assumed he’d been “silenced” by the industry; didn’t know about drug problems. When he started recording again, it seemed to me that he was no longer engaged in the creative sense, but solely in the performance sense; that he’d said what he had to say and now he was going to say it again and again; in different contexts and places. Because the problems he was talking about hadn’t gone away.

In 1992, GSH did a gig in Cardiff. Yes, it was a great gig but what really impressed me is that Gil had done his homework. He knew that he was in one of the poorest parts of Britain; knew that the mines and steel works of South Wales had been under attack and were being closed; and he spoke to that situation. And he went down great! This is a left wing area; in the 1997 General Election, Wales was a Tory-free Zone. At the time of GSH’s gig, the Rhondda, where I now live, had a Communist Mayor! And the CP is still active here.

So we know about the class war here. But in Wales, it gets confused with anti-English feeling (Wales was England’s first and sole remaining colony). In England, the position is much clearer. English (I’m sort of English, as it happens) people tend to see the world through a window coloured class; as, in my limited experience, Americans see through a window coloured race; and Africans see each other through a window coloured tribe.

But all are wrong; in all those, and other, cases, it’s a question of not true seeing. But it’s hard not to do it, because it’s there, surrounding you, from birth. But maybe it helps to know this is what one’s naturally inclined to do.

And GSH is, perhaps, doubly handicapped, seeing things through two windows at the same time (because he does also see things through the race window). But maybe also, he knows it.

And despite GSH, things are no better – actually worse in many ways. And if you didn’t know that the situation now is beyond GSH, listen to Ursula Rucker (who has yet another window to look through, coloured gender).


Rudy Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Mtume, it’s good to discover you are a union man. I was a union organizer for a while with what was then one of the most progressive unions in the nation, made up mostly black women–Local 1199. All that has changed. Unions have been on the retreat since the early 80s and probably that retreat began before that when they began to be run like corporations or began making pacts with corporations, like the UAW. Despite all these drawbacks, I am for trade unions. The more democratic they are the better. They have to think not only what is best for their members but also the members to come. And that is not what is happening. You are right: unions make a difference in pay, benefits, and job security –Rudy

laborfairlady Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 1:06 pm

You know it. This is just the sort of issue is dealing with. If you don’t belong to a union, you have to rely on the market to tell you what you’re worth and be exposed to market forces. I’m an optimist, I believe people would pay more for services union members typically perform if they knew what to pay. I believe in informing the market around what constitutes a living wage–so you can afford your own healthcare and save for retirement managing your own money.

Lady Elix Says:
May 8th, 2011 at 2:25 am

GSH the greatest of all time! Check out his birthday tribute mix on Who’s that Lady Music Show blogspot. Share this link

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