1. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Gil Scott-Heron (1970)
The title has been reused so much that it has become a cliche. But don’t let that obscure the power of this Nixon-era song-poem. It is as strong a political statement as pop culture has known. Scott-Heron, who died last year, delivers biting lines with the directness of a newscaster, telling us that sitting in front of TV won’t bring change and equality. Furthermore, he tells us, TV is softening ugly truths to quell our urge for change. With his early rap-like flow, Scott-Heron unleashes a timeless warning about freedom that resonates with today’s headlines.
Pictured: Gil Scott-Heron circa 1970.