Song of the Week – H2O Gate Blues, Gil Scott-Heron


Today is the official 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency in 1974. But as far as I’m concerned, yesterday, August 8th is the true anniversary because it was on prime time TV the night of the 8th that he announced to the country that he would resign at noon the next day. I remember where I was when that news broke… do you?

I was at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey, at the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reunion tour concert. The band had left the stage abruptly. At a time before smart phones, we in the audience just waited for them to come back out, unaware that something historic was unfolding. At least not until Graham Nash came back out onto the stage and announced “Nixon has just resigned” to the cheers of the largely anti-war crowd.

That 1974 tour was just documented in a new boxed set that was released in July. In a recent interview promoting the recordings Crosby said:

The most memorable moment for me was the Aug. 8 concert at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J. While we were on, President Nixon went on TV and said he was resigning the next day. When we heard backstage, we went bonkers. Graham announced it to the audience and the place went completely up for grabs. It was a moment of complete and utter joy, that a dark cloud was finally lifting and everyone there had somehow been a part of it. We immediately performed my “Long Time Gone.”

If I had a copy of the bootleg from that night (I know one exists) I would make it the SotW. But I don’t so instead let’s give a listen to “H2O Gate Blues” by Gil Scott-Heron.

Scott-Heron was a poet/rap pioneer and improviser with a strong political bent. “H2O Gate Blues” is a classic example of his work. This monologue is 8 ½ minutes of an intelligent and blistering attack on the Nixon administration – its politics and policies.

It’s amazing how so many of his words from 1978 still ring true today and that makes it a perfect SotW for this historic day.

Enjoy… until next week.