Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Audio: Gil Scott-Heron | Pieces of a Man

Gilbert Scott-Heron (1949 – 2011) was an American soul and jazz poet, musician, and author known primarily for his work as a spoken-word performer in the 1970s and 1980s. His collaborative efforts with musician Brian Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. His music, most notably on the albums Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and foreshadowed later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. Scott-Heron is considered by many to be the first rapper/MC ever. His recording work received much critical acclaim, especially one of his best-known compositions, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. From 2001-2008 Scott-Heron served several prison terms on drug-related charges, and in 2010 released his first new album in 16 years, entitled Im New Here.  Scott-Heron received a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Gil Scott-Heron

Pieces of a Man

Jacky? jigsaw pieces 
Tossed about the room 
I saw my grandma sweepin’
With her old straw broom 
But she didn’t know what she was doin’
She could hardly understand 
That she was really sweepin’ up
Pieces of a man 

.

I saw my daddy greet the mailman 
And I heard the mailman say 
“now don’t you take this letter to heart now Jimmy 
Cause they’ve laid off nine others today” 
But he didn’t know what he was saying 
He could hardly understand 
That he was only talkin’ to 
Pieces of a man 

.

I saw the thunder and heard the lightnin’! 
And felt the burden of his shame 
And for some unknown reason 
He never turned my way 

.

Pieces of that letter 
Were tossed about that room 
And now I hear the sound of sirens 
Come knifing through the gloom 
But they don’t know what they are doing 
They could hardly understand 
That they’re only arrestin’
Pieces of a man 

.

I saw him go to pieces 
I saw him go to pieces 
He was always such a good man 
He was always such a strong strong man 
Yeah, I saw him go to pieces 
I saw him go to pieces


Songwriters: Brian Jackson / Gil Scott-Heron

Lyrics included in Vox Populi for educational purposes only.

One comment on “Audio: Gil Scott-Heron | Pieces of a Man

  1. Vincent Spina
    August 7, 2021

    Tried to comment on this. Great piece.

    Liked by 2 people

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