The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
|"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 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 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".
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
- "Pigs", slang term for police
- "Process", term for using chemicals to straighten a Black person's hair 
- 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 stomach 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, the lead character on the half-hour television sitcom series Julia 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
- Willie Mays, baseball player
- "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 p.m.
- 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)
- "...will no longer be so damned relevant," a statement of approval toward the rural purge that led to the above three shows being canceled
- Dick and Jane, generic white couple derived from white children, a brother and sister, featured in American basal readers
- Search for Tomorrow, a popular U.S. television soap opera
- The Brighter Day, another 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
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