Song of the Day: Gil Scott-Heron, “Lady Day and John Coltrane”

Gil Scott-Heron’s music has been described as a soulful meeting of jazz songwriting and witty poetry. He has also been defined as a profoundly influential figure in the development of hip-hop. His lyrics were celebrated for their political awareness and for chronicling the aura of racial tension in the United States, including via the immortal catchphrase, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”

Scott-Heron’s first studio album, Pieces of a Man, was released in 1971. It marked his departure from his spoken word-heavy leanings to more traditionally structured songwriting. The songs on this album were composed alongside keyboardist Brian Jackson, including “Lady Day and John Coltrane.” Here, Scott-Heron celebrates the legacies of Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, encouraging the listener to seek empowerment and escape from everyday existentialist troubles in their legendary music. The song is regarded as one of the major gems of Scott-Heron’s early songwriting.

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