The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
"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 Revolution Will Not Be Televised"|
|Single by Gil Scott-Heron|
|from the album Pieces of a Man|
|A-side||"Home Is Where the Hatred Is"|
|Gil Scott-Heron singles chronology|
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
The song's title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States. Its lyrics either mention or allude to several television series, advertising slogans and icons of entertainment and news coverage that serve as examples of what "the revolution will not" be or do. The song is a response to the spoken-word piece "When the Revolution Comes" by The Last Poets, from their eponymous debut, which opens with the line "When the revolution comes some of us will probably catch it on TV".
It was inducted to the National Recording Registry in 2005.
Cultural references in the poem
- "Plug in, turn on, and cop out", a reference to Timothy Leary's pro-LSD phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out."
- "Skag", slang term for heroin
- Xerox, best-known manufacturer (at the time of the poem's writing) of photocopying machines
- Richard Nixon, 37th president of the United States
- John N. Mitchell, U.S. Attorney General under Nixon
- General Creighton Abrams, one of the commanders of military operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War
- Mendel Rivers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the period of the Vietnam War (Rivers' name appears in the original 1970 recording, but not in the re-recorded 1971 version, being replaced by Spiro Agnew)
- Spiro Agnew, 39th vice president of the United States under Nixon
- "Hog maws", sometimes misheard as "hog moss", soul food made from the jowls, cheeks, or maw, of a pig
- Schaefer Award Theatre, an anthology of theatrical films that aired on several U.S. TV stations
- Natalie Wood, film actress
- Steve McQueen, film actor
- Bullwinkle, cartoon character
- Julia, a TV half-hour sitcom series starring Diahann Carroll.
- "Give your mouth sex appeal", from Ultra Brite toothpaste advertising
- "The revolution will not get rid of the nubs", the nubs being beard stubble, from a Gillette Techmatic razor advertisement of the period
- "NBC will not be able to predict the winner at 8:32", a reference to television networks predicting the winner of presidential elections shortly after the polls close at 8 pm.
- Whitney Young, civil rights leader
- Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NAACP
- Watts, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, alluding to the Watts Riots of 1965
- "Red, black, and green", the colors of the Pan-African flag
- Green Acres, a U.S. television sitcom
- The Beverly Hillbillies, a U.S. television sitcom
- "Hooterville Junction" (a corruption of Petticoat Junction, a U.S. television sitcom, and its fictitious location)
- Dick and Jane, white children, a brother and sister, featured in American basal readers
- Search for Tomorrow, a popular U.S. television soap opera
- "Hairy-armed women liberationists", participants in second-wave feminism
- Jackie Onassis, the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy's widow, seen during the period in television broadcasts of Kennedy memorials
- Jim Webb, U.S. composer
- Francis Scott Key, lyricist of "The Star-Spangled Banner"
- Glen Campbell, U.S. pop/country music singer, then hosting The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour
- Tom Jones, Welsh pop music singer, then hosting This Is Tom Jones
- Johnny Cash, U.S. country music singer, then hosting The Johnny Cash Show
- Engelbert Humperdinck, British pop music singer, then hosting The Engelbert Humperdinck Show
- Rare Earth, all-white U.S. pop music band signed to Motown Records (this band is only referred to in the 1971 version)
- "White tornado", advertising slogan for Ajax cleanser, "Ajax cleans like a white tornado"
- "White lightning", a slang term for moonshine, the name of a 1950s country and western song by George Jones, and an American psychedelic rock band.
- "Dove in your bedroom", an advertising image associated with Dove anti-perspirant deodorant
- Reference to "Put a tiger in your tank", an Esso (now Exxon) advertising slogan created by Chicago copywriter Emery Smith
- "Giant in your toilet bowl," a reference to Liquid-Plumr commercials saying that it cleared so well it was like "having a giant in your toilet bowl" with an animation of a large arm using a plunger on your toilet.
- Reference to "Things go better with Coke", a Coca-Cola advertising slogan
- Reference to "Fights germs that may cause bad breath", from Listerine advertising
- Reference to "Let Hertz put you in the driver's seat", advertising slogan for Hertz car rental
In popular culture
- 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.
- 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".
- The song appears in the 1999 Norman Jewison film The Hurricane and on its soundtrack.
- The Revolution Will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, a book published in 2009, references the song in its title.
- In 2010, New Statesman magazine listed it as one of the "Top 20 Political Songs".
- In 2011, after Scott-Heron's death, Lupe Fiasco released a poem dedicated to him titled "The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized".
- In June 2013 a sign quoting the poem's title (in Greek) was posted on a window inside the Greek state broadcaster ERT as employees resisted its closure by the government under pressure from the troika of the EU, ECB and the IMF to cut public spending under their austerity regime.
- Released in September 2013, South Korean entertainer G-Dragon's Coup d'Etat contains a vocal sample of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised".
- Hamilton, Charles V.; Ture, Kwame (1967). Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. New York City: Random House. ISBN 0679743138.
- Al Nasir, Abdul Malik (June 6, 2018). "Jalal Mansur Nuriddin: farewell to the 'grandfather of rap'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
- "The National Recording Registry 2005". The Library of Congress. October 25, 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
- Mansnerus, Laura (June 1, 1996). "Timothy Leary, Pied Piper Of Psychedelic 60's, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- Eagle Poetry
- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron-Topic on YouTube
- Lee, Chisum (June 19, 2001). "Counter 'Revolution'". The Village Voice. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- "Review: Gorillaz, Plastic Beach". The Quietus. March 5, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- "Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised lyrics". Rap Genius. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- "Sight&Sound: The Hurricane 1999". British Film Institute. 1999. Archived from the original on August 2, 2011. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- INCITE! (2017). The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-6900-4.
- Smith, Ian (March 25, 2010). "Top 20 Political Songs: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". New Statesman. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
- "Lupe Fiasco". Retrieved October 22, 2014.
- Wearden, Graeme (June 12, 2013). "Greece's state broadcaster defies government closure; RBS boss in shock resignation - as it happened". The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- "[Album Review] G-Dragon 'Coup De'Tat'". Allkpop. 6Theory Media. September 14, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
- "Coup D'etat, Pt. 1". Allmusic. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
- Kenner, Rob (September 9, 2013). "G-Dragon Covers Complex's "Coup d'Etat" Week!". Complex Magazine. Retrieved November 22, 2013.