The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Gil Scott-Heron Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

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

Overall Meaning

Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 poem put to music, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," is about the deficiencies of media during the 60s and 70s, a time of great civil rights movements, in capturing the essence of revolutionary politics or calling people to action. The lyrics warn that the revolution, a reformative and transformative pursuit, will not come through entertainment or mainstream news, as these outlets are constrained by capitalist interests and superficial ambitions. By replacing the uplifting performance prompted by television invasion with militant, chanting lyrics led by a bongo drumbeat, the song encourages active participation against a systematic, oppressive social order that routinely sweeps black people under the rug.


The lyrics also touched on an era in which media coverage played a crucial role in highlighting critical events, such as police brutality and racial injustice. The suggested possibility of these events being ignored in the future makes the song a portrayal of Afrocentric oppression as evergreen. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” uses many rhetorical devices to achieve its goals, including parallelism, repetition, and ironic wordplay. However, the most significant device is the title, which embodies the poet’s vision that revolution must be physically experienced rather than otherwise viewed from the comfort of one’s home through a screen.


Line by Line Meaning

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You cannot remain passive during this revolution.


You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You cannot escape from the responsibilities of revolution by indulging in distractions.


You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip out for beer during commercials, because
You cannot ignore the revolution and seek comfort in drugs, alcohol or television during the breaks.


The revolution will not be televised
The significant events of the revolution will not be broadcast on mainstream media.


The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox in four parts without commercial interruptions
You cannot expect the revolution to be packaged and sold to you like a commodity.


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 present propaganda of leaders taking absurd actions to gain control.


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 is not a movie with celebrities playing the lead roles.


The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not focus on superficial desires and needs.


The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not eliminate any insignificant or unimportant issues.


The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because
The revolution will not prioritize appearances or superficial changes.


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
There will be no glamorization or glorification of illegal or meaningless acts in the revolution.


NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32 on report from twenty-nine districts
The revolution will not be predictable or limited by the whims of mainstream media.


There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay
The revolution will not show violence or oppression suffered by the oppressed people in the form of entertainment.


There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
The revolution will not celebrate the mistreatment of people fighting for justice.


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
The revolution will not portray the leaders dressed in flashy outfits and striking poses.


Green acres, Beverly hillbillies, and Hooterville junction will no longer be so damn relevant
The revolution will reduce the significance of superficial distractions and promote serious issues.


And women will not care if Dick finally got down with Jane on Search for Tomorrow
The revolution will not be concerned about trivial fictional characters and their relationships.


Because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will focus on the oppressed fighting for a better future.


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 revolution will not present people fighting for justice as a spectacle or ridicule them for their physical appearances.


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 present fame and music as essential for the fight for justice.


The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people
The revolution will not prioritize the concerns of the oppressors or the privileged.


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 prioritize the fight for justice and not the imagined threats or fears of the privileged.


The revolution will not go better with Coke or fight germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will prioritize the essential needs of the oppressed people, not the superficial needs created by corporations.


The revolution will put you in the driver's seat
The revolution will empower the oppressed people and give them control of their future.


The revolution will be no re-run, brothers
The revolution will not be a repeated or trivial event.


The revolution will be live
The revolution will happen right in front of our eyes, and we need to be active and participate in it.




Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Written by: Gil Scott-Heron

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on or correct specific content, highlight it

Genre not found
Artist not found
Album not found
Song not found
Most interesting comment from YouTube:

@shaneelder2183

*****​
So what are we waiting for...

Spoken words will light the tinder
Gathered by our class.
Ideas once swept to the dustbin
By the corporate overlords,
Now carefully piled like dry staves,
Pickets long discarded but not destroyed and ready for the flame's tongue.

The poet's flint strikes steel...
A hiss, a spark, and a crackle--
The bonfires flare and pop,
And Yeats's gyre expands anew--
Revolution unchained
Slouching this time toward Babylon.




All comments from YouTube:

@shaneelder2183

This brother had a keen understanding of media and hegemony. His poetry is still relevant, still prescient, still right on. The revolution will not be texted, will not be tweeted, will not be televised, will not be televised. The revolution will be live.

@nikkipoy

Yep,.... just change out some of the items... celeb names.... not much has changed it seems. 

@shaneelder2183

*****​
So what are we waiting for...

Spoken words will light the tinder
Gathered by our class.
Ideas once swept to the dustbin
By the corporate overlords,
Now carefully piled like dry staves,
Pickets long discarded but not destroyed and ready for the flame's tongue.

The poet's flint strikes steel...
A hiss, a spark, and a crackle--
The bonfires flare and pop,
And Yeats's gyre expands anew--
Revolution unchained
Slouching this time toward Babylon.


@nikkipoy

Actually, yes, it will be live, texted, filmed, and tweeted....

@dianacirrito7341

+Shane Elder wonderful 👌

@cacamal13

and packaged in a Del Taco drive through received bag of 3 tacos 4 hamburgers 2 french fries 1 mr pib....lets REVOLT!

47 More Replies...

@samuelodey9823

Woohoo 🥳
Listening from Africa in January 2024, and I can feel it. “The Revolution will not be Televised”.

@davidsaints1

And we almost lose Detroit.

@jochanaan58

The Revolution will be live!

@garytodd6034

@@davidsaints1 his Sign(of)Nature / sigNature was SolID,just enough AWE to make him Awesome,too much...Awe'Full,have a gooden Man,ppsssttt,it'll probably be Live~Streamed :)

More Comments

More Versions