Daily doses of creativity

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pieces of a Man


This song has haunted me from the first time I heard it. The despair in the lyrics is matched by the clear-eyed pain of the vocals. The poetry stands on its own but it's the singing that makes the hairs stand up. The piano and bass are pretty tasty too.

The son of an opera singing mother and a father who was the first black man to play for the Celtic Football Club in Glasgow, Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago. When he was 12 he moved to the Bronx where he attended the prestigious Fieldston School in my neighborhood. During his admissions interview at Fieldston, an administrator asked him, "'How would you feel if you see one of your classmates go by in a limousine while you're walking up the hill from the subway?" Scott-Heron replied, "Same way as you. Y'all can't afford no limousine. How do you feel?" He died in 2011 and is buried in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY.





Jagged jigsaw pieces
Tossed about the room
I saw my grandma sweeping
With her old straw broom
 

She didn't know what she was doing
She could hardly understand
That she was really sweeping up
Pieces of a man

I saw my daddy greet the mailman
And I heard the mailman say
"Now don't you take this letter to heart now Jimmy
Cause they've laid off nine others today"
 

He didn't know what he was saying
He could hardly understand
That he was only talking to
Pieces of a man

I saw the thunder and heard the lightning
And felt the burden of his shame
And for some unknown reason
He never turned my way

Pieces of that letter
Were tossed about that room
And now I hear the sound of sirens
Come knifing through the gloom


They don't know what they are doing
They could hardly understand
That they're only arresting
Pieces of a man

 

I saw him go to pieces
I saw him go to pieces
He was always such a good man
He was always such a strong man
Yeah, I saw him go to pieces
I saw him go to pieces