Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gil-Scott Heron "Let Me See Your ID"

A Nelson Mandela-related Weekend Post:

"The word causalities comes up a lot . . . Nothing casual about dying."

I wrote yesterday about the "Sun City" song, and how it was one of the first "political message" records I had ever tuned into.  And that it was my first run-in with many artists that I would come to appreciate more deeply in the years to come (including Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone and Little Steven himself).

Van Zandt's original intention was to just make a single.  But as more and more artists came on board, he found himself with more and more material.  Eventually, they stretched things out to a full length release.  Though . . . there was a lot of filler---like 3 remixes of "Sun City."

There were also some really interesting and important pieces.

"Let Me See Your ID" was my first run-in with Gil-Scott Heron.  And it was my first real experience with a sound collage.  Heron's spoken parts to this piece were so clear and direct, that it helped explain the situation in both a contextual and moral way.  The line I quote at the start of this post really struck me, and forced me to start thinking critically about the words we absorb, well, casually.

I think it's worth pointing out, again, that the work on this album is overlooked and under-appreciated as an early example of Rock musicians working with Rappers, and effectively bringing music that was associated with Black and Urban listeners to the White suburbs.

When you heard it for the first time, "Hey, what Peter Wolf is doing, is the same thing these rappers are doing," rap music made sense.

Definitely check out today's song.  But if you have 45 minutes, stream the whole album below.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the full album on Youtube.

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