We’ve been lucky enough to meet some pretty amazing people over the last few years, but it would hard to top meeting one of our all time idols, Gil Scott-Heron.
Gil had just finished a blinding set to an amazingly appreciative audience at Bestival last Friday when we approached him for an interview.
We thought we’d be able to grab a couple of minutes, so were stunned when he asked us back to his dressing room – lucky for us because Bestival PR had told us we didn’t have a chance of getting anything.
To say it was a humbling moment would be an understatement, but we got right down to the interview, mindful that Gil must’ve been exhausted from the gig.
He instantly made a point of ensuring that his fellow band members received equal praise, all of whom had been with him for many, many years.
From the early 1970s until 2010, Gil has been prolific in his output with this latest album, Storm Music, now on sale.
“Everybody should have a fair share to do well”
Well-known for using music and poetry to question and raise awareness of social and political issues, we chatted to him about the core ideals of equality, which Gil believes is everybody having a fair share of being able to do well.
Talking about the songs of the past he says, “When we were doing those songs we were looking ahead not looking behind.”
We asked how he thought things were working out in the world today, “It’s better than it was. Everybody that has an opportunity, should add something to that – and if enough things get added to it, the rest of the people will come around.”
“Before you can change something, you’ve got to be aware of it,” he said, “Before things can really change, enough people have to be aware.”
Change is gradual
“Ideas sometimes move slower than everything else,” Gil continued, “Only a fool expects to do it overnight. It’s not an overnight thing. The world didn’t get this way overnight, so we’re not going to be able to fix it overnight,” concluding, “The more people I meet who want to see it fixed, the better I feel.”
The most fundamental change?
When we asked how long he felt it was going to be until there would be a fundamental change, “I never felt there was going to be too many fundamental changes when I started, but I’ve seen a lot.”
“It was so far away from where we started, we wouldn’t have even had this conversation.”
“Most people think good things”
Gil spoke about how the band listen to what people say, then reflect back to them what they’ve heard.
“I think most people think good things, they just don’t know how to get it,” he continued, “When they hear a good idea, they hold on to it – so the more people you have out there putting out good ideas, the more chance of them running into one.”
“Anywhere you can run into a good idea, is a good place to be.”
Charming and insightful
Gil was charming, insightful and hugely generous with his time, not to mention the Champagne, which you’ll hear being popped near the end of the interview.
What a great honour it was to meet Gil Scott-Heron. Click on the play button below to listen to the interview (some swearing). You’ll get a lot out of it.
If we weren’t lucky enough to catch Gil Scott-Heron at Bestival, here’s a little slice of the legend.
Image: © Used with the kind permission of Lucy Boynton