The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
Gill Scott Heron- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised- RCA (Flying Dutchman) 1971.jpg
Single by Gil Scott-Heron
from the album Pieces of a Man
A-side "Home Is Where the Hatred Is"
Released 1971
Format 7-inch single
Length 3:07
Label Flying Dutchman
Writer(s) Gil Scott-Heron
Producer(s) Bob Thiele
Gil Scott-Heron singles chronology
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
"The Bottle"
Music sample

"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.[1] 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.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The drum pattern is often used in Hip Hop music.
  • 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 that were popular with rural audiences (which he mentioned by name in the lyrics) 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 (but neither of which Scott-Heron mentioned), survived and thrived by entering syndication, countering the revolution.
  • The first track entitled Countdown to Armageddon of the 1988 Public Enemy album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, includes the line, "The revolution will not be televised."
  • 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."[2]
  • 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,"[3] 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.[4]
  • 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 Kidd, Jim Jackson, Eddie Jones, Joe Smith, and Kevin Garnett.[5]
  • 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".[6][7]
  • A cover was recorded by singing trio Labelle as part of a two-part medley for their 1973 album, Pressure Cookin'.[8]
  • Mexican rock band Molotov 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.[9]
  • The last track of the 1998 album titled "This Is Hardcore," by the band Pulp has the line "The revolution was televised, now it's over, bye bye"
  • 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 rephrasing of the title: "One, two; the evolution will be colorized..."
  • The song appears in the 1999 Norman Jewison film The Hurricane and on its soundtrack.[10]
  • Kim Bartley and Donnacha Ó Briain, named their documentary about the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.
  • In 2007, artist Tom Burns released a TV mocking T-shirt entitled 'The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized'.[11]
  • The 2009 track Exhibit C, by hip-hop artist Jay Electronica starts off with a sample of the poem.
  • In 2010, New Statesman magazine listed it as one of the “Top 20 Political Songs”.[12]
  • In 2011, after Gil's death, Lupe Fiasco released a poem dedicated to him entitled "The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized".[13]
  • In 2012 the Spanish rapper Rayden publish a song named "No nacimos ayer" where he says in the chorus: "La revolución nunca será televisada" (The revolution never will be televised)
  • 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.[14]
  • Released in September 2013, South Korean entertainer G-Dragon's "Coup d'Etat" contains a vocal sample of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" performed by Gil Scott-Heron.[15][16][17]
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. South End Press. ISBN 0896087662. , a book published in 2009, references the song in its title.
  • Used in Long Walk to Freedom biographical movie about Nelson Mandela.
  • Used in Season 5, Episode 6 of Scandal as the end song.


  1. ^ Stokely Carmichael (1967). Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. Random House. ISBN 0679743138. 
  2. ^ "Common (Ft. Dexter Thibou) – The 6th Sense". 
  3. ^ "The Elvis Costello Home Page". 
  4. ^ Lee, Chisum (19 June 2001). "Counter 'Revolution'". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  5. ^ "Eric King » NIKE 'Revolution'". 
  6. ^ "Review: Gorillaz, Plastic Beach". The Quietus. March 5, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised lyrics". Rap Genius. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Review: Labelle, Pressure Cookin'". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Review: Genaside II, Ad Finité". Discogs. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Sight&Sound: The Hurricane 1999". British Film Institute. 1999. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Tom Burns t-shirt". Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  12. ^ Smith, Ian (March 25, 2010). "Top 20 Political Songs: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". New Statesman. Retrieved March 25, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Lupe Fiasco". Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  14. ^ Graeme Wearden (June 12, 2013). "Greece's state broadcaster defies government closure; RBS boss in shock resignation - as it happened | Business". London: Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  15. ^ "[Album Review] G-Dragon 'Coup De'Tat'". Allkpop. 6Theory Media. 14 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Coup D'etat, Pt. 1". Allmusic. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  17. ^ "G-Dragon Covers Complex's "Coup d'Etat" Week!". Complex Magazine. 2013-09-09. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 

External links[edit]