The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – The Anthem of a Movement Beyond Screens


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Gil Scott-Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Screen Is Not the Battlefield: Dissecting the Poetic Charge
  5. A Chorus of Hidden Meanings: Unveiling the Subtext
  6. Beyond the Commercial Interruptions: A Culture of Resistance
  7. Allusions That Cut Deep: The Song’s Most Memorable Lines
  8. The Unending Echoes: From 70s Anthems to Digital Age Mantras

Lyrics

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
And skip out for beer during commercials, because
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be brought to you
By Xerox in four parts without commercial interruptions
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle
And leading a charge by John Mitchell, General Abrams, and Spiro Agnew
To eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre
And will not star Natalie Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because
The revolution will not be televised, brother

There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mae
Pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run
Or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance
NBC will not be able predict the winner
At 8:32 on report from twenty-nine districts
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young
Being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still lifes of Roy Wilkins
Strolling through Watts in a red, black, and green liberation jumpsuit
That he has been saving for just the proper occasion

Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville Junction
Will no longer be so damn relevant
And women will not care if Dick finally got down with Jane
On Search for Tomorrow
Because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news
And no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
And Jackie Onassis blowing her nose
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb or Francis Scott Keys
Nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash
Engelbert Humperdinck, or The Rare Earth
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be right back
After a message about a white tornado
White lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom
The tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat

The revolution will not be televised
Will not be televised
Will not be televised
Will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run, brothers
The revolution will be live

Full Lyrics

When Gil Scott-Heron penned ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ in the rumbling era of the 1970s, his words were not just lyrics to a song but a manifesto for the ages. It’s a battle cry, a declaration that the change sweltering in the hearts of the oppressed wouldn’t be packaged, commercialized, or diluted for public consumption on the small screen.

Immersing in the rhythmic fervor of these words reveals more than a catchy tune—it shows us a mirror to society and a blueprint for liberation. With media ubiquity greater now than ever, the song’s purport has transfigured, if not intensified, almost prescient in its understanding of media manipulation and the spectacle of protests in our current digital age.

The Screen Is Not the Battlefield: Dissecting the Poetic Charge

Gil Scott-Heron’s masterpiece is a derisive commentary on the passivity engendered by media consumption. The bluntness with which Heron outlines that critical actions and events leading to substantial societal change will not be neatly broadcasted is a rallying call for active participation. It’s not that the revolution will not happen, but rather it won’t be sanitized and served up for your viewing pleasure.

His words weave through the tapestry of a society inundated with ads and entertainment, co-opting civil rights imagery for profit or distraction. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is a trenches perspective from which true revolution seems almost invisible to a society numbed by an incessant deluge of propaganda and commercial breaks.

A Chorus of Hidden Meanings: Unveiling the Subtext

On the surface, the chorus might seem as simple as it is profound, but deeper within its repetitive cadence lies a multitude of implications. Gil Scott-Heron is keenly aware of the television’s role as the curator of a status quo narrative, often drowning out the voices clamoring for change. By asserting ‘the revolution will not be televised’, he anticipates that the real change is grassroots, raw, and direct—not filtered through the agenda-driven lens of broadcasters.

He skewers the idea of mass media as a mediating tool for the masses, become a sedative instead. The revolution he speaks of is personal and visceral, a kind of change that doesn’t fit the screen’s confines or conform to its schedules. It’s a revolution of the mind as much as a physical upheaval.

Beyond the Commercial Interruptions: A Culture of Resistance

Cultural references in the song are vivid, picture-postcard snapshots of a perverted American dream—pop culture icons, commercials, and political figures that are complicit in sustaining a decaying order. The line, ‘The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal,’ lampoons the commercial industry’s insidious way of aligning self-worth with consumerist values.

Overthrowing this order, according to Heron, is not just a rejection of systemic oppression, but also of the fluffy, distracting inanity of commercial culture. His artful denouncement invites us to look away from the screens and reconnect with the human elements of protest and progress.

Allusions That Cut Deep: The Song’s Most Memorable Lines

Heron’s lyrics are laced with biting allusions to the period’s socio-political landscape. Verses such as ‘The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle’ mock the diorama of officialdom and its pretensions of progress. The lyricist takes us on a journey through the whitewashed falsehoods paraded before the public eye as revolutionary, showcasing his ability to expose and ridicule hollow symbolism.

The repetition of ‘The revolution will not be televised’ itself becomes an electrifying incantation, stressing the urgency and authenticity of the struggles excluded from the mainstream narrative. This line continues to resonate because it presages an evergreen truth—real change happens away from the camera’s gaze, in the places where people gather, voices rise, and actions matter.

The Unending Echoes: From 70s Anthems to Digital Age Mantras

The legacy of ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ reverberates through decades, morphing into the meme culture and hashtag activism of the modern era. Today, the essence of Heron’s message is reflected in the live-streamed grassroots movements, citizen journalism, and the collective consciousness asserting that change won’t just be passively absorbed.

It’s a testament to the enduring nature of Scott-Heron’s vision that his lyrics are invoked whenever the people rise against the machine—whether that machine be governmental, corporate, or media. The song remains an enduring reminder that the screen is but a window, and true change lies on the other side.

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