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The Last Holiday: A Memoir by Gil…

The Last Holiday: A Memoir

by Gil Scott-Heron

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Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream. And Stevie Wonder had a dream. This is a book about dreams. 'In the autumn of 1980, Stevie Wonder invited Gil Scott-Heron to join him on a forty-one-city tour across America, ending in Washing­ton in January 1981, to gather popular support for the creation of a holiday in honour of the great civil-rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. Scott-Heron uses this history-making tour as the backbone of his fascinating memoir. Raised by his grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee, Scott-Heron's journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of the most uncompromising and influential musicians and songwriters of his generation is a remarkable one. Politically savvy and savagely satirical, socially conscious and tender-hearted, Gil Scott-Heron has been called the godfather of rap, and his unexpected death in May 2011 marked the loss of one of the world's most vocal and articulate artists. Chuck D of Public Enemy said of Scott-Heron, 'we do what we do and who we do because of you' and Eminem added, 'Scott-Heron influenced all of hip-hop'. And as Sarah Silverman said, "he mirrored ugliness with beauty, audacity, and valour'.A compelling testament to Gil Scott-Heron's career and achievements, The Last Holiday is full of Scott-Heron's keen insights into the music industry, the civil rights movement, modern America, governmental hypocrisy and our wider place in the world. ( )
  bgm | Oct 13, 2012 |
If you know Heron's work, you will recognize immediately that this memoir was written by the man himself; slightly discursive at times, full of wordplay (sometimes clever, and sometimes a little trite) full of a solid practicality and sense of fun. The book doesn't focus clearly on the campaign to adopt Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday; about 30% of it deals with that story and his respect and affection for Stevie Wonder at the heart of it all; the rest gives a quick overview of the life and times of Heron himself. I enjoyed almost every word. ( )
  freddlerabbit | Apr 16, 2012 |
Gil's voice definitely leaps off the page in his posthumous memoir. Fans of his music definitely need to read it. I can't exactly suss out why his tour with Stevie Wonder on campaign for MLK day is used as the framework for it, but I suppose the reverence in which Gil seems to hold his heroes gives some clue. The Last Holiday does feel a little bit frustratingly incomplete, never delving particularly deeply into his mysterious lost years and rumors of homelessness and addiction, which honestly feels like a bit of a cheat despite the periodically brutal honesty of the man and the rest of the work. But the very last chapter, a few brief pages focusing on the death of his mother, the kind of love the Scott family practiced (or didn't), his children, and how he could've been a better man, is absolutely devastating. A fitting end to his life's work - the moments of brilliance and devastating honesty more than make up for any shortcomings. ( )
  eswnr | Mar 18, 2012 |
Showing 3 of 3
"Leave it to Scott-Heron to save some of his best for last. This posthumously published memoir, "The Last Holiday," is an elegiac culmination to his musical and literary career. He's a real writer, a word man, and it is as wriggling and vital in its way as Bob Dylan's "Chronicles: Volume One.""
added by Polaris- | editNew York Times, Dwight Garner
Often called the godfather of rap, Scott-Heron released 20 albums and many singles, including the deeply influential “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Now, even after his death, Scott-Heron continues to mesmerize us in this brilliant and lyrical romp through the fields of his life. He carries us from his birth in 1949 and childhood in Jackson, Tenn., just east of Memphis, to his coming-of-age in New York City and his many and varied musical adventures with recording industry executives such as Clive Davis of Columbia Records. Scott-Heron recalls his grandmother talking to the junk man one day and the next thing he knew, an upright piano was being carried into the house; his musical career commenced when he started learning to play hymns on that piano. When the family got a second radio, he was able to listen to WDIA in Memphis, where Carla and Rufus Thomas and B.B. King were on-air personalities. When the interstate highway paved over their neighborhood, Scott-Heron and his mother moved on to New York, where his musical career took flight and soared. Scott-Heron’s memoir also gracefully calls out Stevie Wonder and his initially attempts and eventually successful campaign to establish Martin Luther King’s birthday as a national holiday. In this captivating memoir Scott-Heron movingly gives thanks for the “Spirits,” those intangible influences in his life that moved him and helped direct his life and to whom he gives back so fully through his gift of lyrics and music.
added by Polaris- | editPublishers Weekly
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802129013, Hardcover)

The stunning memoir of Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Holiday has been praised for bringing back to life one of the most important voices of the last fifty years. Now in paperback, The Last Holiday provides a remarkable glimpse into Scott-Heron’s life and times, from his humble beginnings to becoming one of the most influential artists of his generation.

The memoir climaxes with a historic concert tour in which Scott-Heron’s band opened for Stevie Wonder. The Hotter than July tour traveled cross-country from late 1980 through early 1981, drumming up popular support for the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King’s birthday, January 15, was marked with a massive rally in Washington.

A fitting testament to the achievements of an extraordinary man, The Last Holiday provides a moving portrait of Scott-Heron’s relationship with his mother, personal recollections of Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Clive Davis, and other musical figures, and a compelling narrative vehicle for Scott-Heron’s insights into the music industry, the civil rights movement, governmental hypocrisy, and our wider place in the world. The Last Holiday confirms Scott-Heron as a fearless truth-teller, a powerful artist, and an inspiring observer of his times.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A personal account by the late musician and poet traces the story of his life, career, and history-making 1981 tour at the side of Stevie Wonder to raise support for the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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