#895: 1976, Gil Scott-Heron, Johannesburg

by Jackie_South on May 12, 2014

In his recent run-through of the songs we have posted from the current decade, George mentioned in passing the lack of political songs, and how they were fairly mainstream in our youth. There are a few exceptions, but where is Austerity Britain’s Ghost Town? What was an important current of popular music between Dylan and New Labour seems to have pretty much vanished.

Back in the Seventies, life was different. There aren’t many cities which I can remember how I first heard of them, but I know how I first heard of Johannesburg.  As often as not, hearing of it on the news still sets off a thought of “What’s the word?”.

South Africa did not get too much attention then: by 1976, the disruption of the South African rugby and cricket tours of Britain were long over and the upswing of attention following the murder of Steve Biko was still the best part of two years away. But Gil Scott-Heron‘s song made sure that the world knew the issues had not gone away:

They tell me that our brothers over there refuse to work in the mines,
They may not get the news but they need to know we’re on their side.

The world is still full of injustice. So where’s today’s music about it?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Geoff Elliott May 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm

There are no youth ‘tribes’ anymore, at least not to the extent that existed during our teenage years. Ubiquitous youth culture, mass consumerism and rapid advances in technology have all diluted the ‘angry young man/woman’ syndrome.

A shame.


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