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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 5, 2012 02:18pm | Post a Comment
The Last Holiday: A Memoir If you are looking for a tell-all autobiography about the tumultuous life of Gil Scott-Heron, chances are you are going to be disappointed by The Last Holiday: A Memoir. What Gil Scott-Heron gave us were selected memories, the ones that resonated in his mind before his death. He is a man full of inspiration and controversy, but chose to reflect on his accomplishments and share the memories of people who most inspired him most.

The autobiography jumps around in the beginning, from his tour stories from his 1980 tour with Stevie Wonder to his upbringing with his grandmother in Tennessee. Gil writes eloquently about being raised in the south and being one of the first black students to integrate into an all-white school public school. After his grandmother’s passing, he moves with his mother to New York, in which his mixture of book smarts and street smarts ends up going to a private high school mostly reserved for students of privlege. From there it covers his college days, in which he takes a leave of absence to finish his first novel, The Vulture. From there, he returns to school and starts on a path as the musician the most people know him as.

Gil never dwells too much on his accomplishments. For instance, Gil spends more time writing about his appreciation how other artists covered his songs off his excellent album, Pieces Of A Man than he does about writing the songs himself. Much praise in the book was given to the people that he felt helped him along the way, such as his family, instructors, musicians as well as guys such as Bob Thiele and Clive Davis, who both released his albums and helped make him the icon that he became.

Gil Scott-Heron & Stevie WonderThe most praise and perhaps could have been a book on its own, was Gil’s stories about tour with Stevie Wonder in 1980. The significance of that tour was that Stevie Wonder used the tour to help spearhead the campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr. day a national holiday, with a show at the Washington Monument, the very spot were King gave his infamous, “I Have A Dream” speech. Gil admiration for Stevie, who though blind, was keen in every other sense. He was a person who could say exactly what was needed to be said and do what was needed to accomplish his goal of a Martin Luther King Day, an accomplishment that was achieved during one of the most conservative governments in U.S. history. It is also noteworthy to add that Gil was supposed to do a few selected dates on the tour, as Bob Marley was the opening act. But as it was, Bob was diagnosed with cancer and had to cancel the tour.

Once again there are many holes if you are looking for the true memoir of Gil Scott-Heron. There is nothing on his criticism of rap music, his drug addictions, legal issues, the fact that he was HIV positive or his time in prison. There is also the fact that his main musical collaborator for several albums, Brian Jackson, gets less coverage than Gil’s favorite road manager, a man known as "Keg Leg". I’m sure as time goes on there will be more Gil Scott-Heron biographies that will tell the whole story. The Last Holiday: A Memoir is just that, memories of events and opportunities that turned his life around. A tribute to those he had fond memories of.

The Last Holiday: A Memoir  is available at Amoeba Hollywood's new expanded book section or at IMIX Books, located inside Mi Vida Boutique in Highland Park.


Relevant Tags

Black History Month 2012 (11), Black History Month (122), Gil Scott-heron (10), Stevie Wonder (21)