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 I‘m New Here. Scott-Heron received a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
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.