Fire and purpose are not inconsistent with mirth. In fact, the two cohabit well, mirth marking the self-assured ease of someone who really knows that he has a point of view. This is good to remember when you see Gil Scott-Heron perform. I remember how surprised I was, after having grown familiar with his tough, committed records (serious songs about racism, lying politicians, drugs and alcoholism, etc), to find that his between-songs rap on stage was a hilarious speed-freak jive, all “motherfucker” this and “motherfucker” that. Then he’d light into the quite unfunny “We Almost Lost Detroit” (the true story of a near-meltdown in a Monroe, Michigan, nuclear reactor). No inconsistency–no more than when Scott-Heron, in the middle of all the political stuff, croons the occasional mushy love song. The right to love, laugh, and live is, after all, all the political dissidents of the world are really fighting for. Tonight, Biddy Mulligan’s, 7644 N. Sheridan; 761-6532.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Natkin–Photo Reserve.