“Home Is Where the Hatred Is” by Gil Scott-Heron
In “Home is Where the Hatred Is”, Gil Scott-Heron most notably takes on the role of a drug addict or “junkie”, as designated in the lyrics. From the onset, it is revealed that the place he calls “home” is a very less-than-ideal environment and as inferred one in which there is a profound lack of love present.
And it may be that he is referring to the ghettos. These are the troubled inner-city communities which many American minorities are known to populate.
But this isn’t a social commentary piece in the broadest sense, i.e. the vocalist going about touching on a number of maladies which plague the community. Instead, as the song progresses it becomes obvious that Gil is speaking most specifically to, once again, drug addiction. This is made more prominent via the third verse. And of course, we know that this is an issue which affects people from all walks of life.
So even though there are certain lyrics which may allude to this narrative being set in the ‘hood, it can be said that ultimately such is beside the point. And that’s because what’s being put forth, most simply put, is the vocalist’s inability to evade his inner demons. Or let’s say that wherever it is he calls home, that’s the place that he’s going to use primarily to snort and shoot up.
In all this song is actually pretty deep. And that’s because what’s kinda being inferred is that when Gil is away from home, wandering for three days for instance as implied at the beginning of the song, he is unable to truly feed his addiction. But things change when he is home. As soon as he gets comfortable in his own domicile, that’s when the vocalist’s self-destructive tendencies really come to the forefront.
But concerning the title of this track, it can also be gathered that since the environment he lives in is one devoid of love, that reality also encourages him to get high. So taking all of this into consideration, that would seemingly be why Gil seemingly concludes that the only way he’ll be able to “kick” and “quit” the addiction is to avoid his current home altogether.
And yes, even counselors often give a similar advice. These professionals would tell you that oftentimes in order to effectively overcome a developed habit to abuse drugs, an addict would have to avoid certain environments they are familiar with, especially those, as in this case, which propagate using such substances.
Scott-Heron (1949-2011) is primarily remembered as being a spoken-word poet. His works tended to focus on themes of Black liberation. His heyday was during the 1970s. This was an era in American history in which the Black Power movement can also be said to have been at its peak.
And pretty amazingly, despite being primarily a poet, Gil experienced notable success as a vocalist in the music industry. This was in part due to the fact that he actually recited his poems on top of quality instrumentals. So accordingly, he is considered by many to have been one of the progenitors of rap music.
Release of “Home Is Where the Hatred Is”
This track is from Gil Scott-Heron’s second studio album, “Pieces of a Man”. The entire album was released through Flying Dutchman Records in 1971.
Interestingly, this track was issued as a single, with “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” serving as its B-side. But it’s the latter that actually went on to be considered Gil’s signature song. However, “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” failed to chart altogether.
Credits for “Home Is Where the Hatred Is”
Gil Scott-Heron wrote this song, and its producer was a jazz specialist named Bob Thiele (1922-1996).