Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Written and first recorded by Gil Scott-Heron (1970).
Popular version by Gil Scott-Heron (1971).
See also: “The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka” by Roy Clark (1972)

From the wiki: “‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is a song-poem written by Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron first recorded it as a live performance for his 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, on which he recited the lyrics, accompanied by congas and bongo drums. A re-recorded version, with a full band, was the B-side to Scott-Heron’s first single, ‘Home Is Where the Hatred Is’, in 1971 from his album Pieces of a Man. This version of ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ was also included on Scott-Heron’s compilation album, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1974).

“The song’s title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States. Its lyrics either mention or allude to several television series, advertising slogans and celebrity icons of entertainment and news coverage that serve as examples of what ‘the revolution will not’ be or do.

“Roy Clark’s 1972 song ‘The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka’ parodies Scott-Heron’s song in its title but answers its substance. Scott-Heron had accurately predicted that as part of the ‘revolution’, several TV shows popular with rural audiences (which he mentioned by name in the lyrics: Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Hooterville Junction [sic]) would no longer be relevant; indeed, all but one of them had been canceled by 1971 as part of a CBS-TV programming strategy known as the ‘rural purge’ as the television networks (and advertising agencies) became more focused on viewer demographics, not overall ratings. Meanwhile, ABC-TV underwent its own purge, canceling the variety show series The Lawrence Welk Show. Welk’s show is the subject of of Clark’s response. While no longer distributed by a major TV network, it survived and thrived by entering into independent syndicated distribution, thereby ‘countering’ the ‘revolution’.”

Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” B-side re-recording (1971):

Roy Clark, “The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka” (1972):

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