The first time I heard “Must Be Something,” it was very reaffirming for me. I cannot call myself a revolutionary or a political activist but when I heard this song I felt that the work I was doing as a teacher and as an artist was validated, reaffirmed, and reenergized. That is the power in this song.
Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson teamed up to create this song on the Midnight Band: The First Minute of a New Day album in 1975. Scott-Heron, poet and vocalist was born in Chicago, but lived in Tennessee and the Bronx, began recording in 1970 with well-known producer Bob Thiele on the album Small Talk and went on to record the famous Pieces of a Man and is still recording today with the recent release of I’m New Here. Winter in America and Midnight Band weren’t the only collaborations between Scott-Heron and Jackson but they were some of the most powerful albums recorded by the artists.
Brian Jackson, keyboardist and vocalist, was born in Brooklyn, NY and began recording in 1971 with Scott-Heron on the LP Pieces of a Man. He collaborated with Scott-Heron on many other LP’s; the song “Must Be Something,” was featured on the Midnight Band LP. Not many know that Jackson went on to work with some amazing musicians including Lady Bug Mecca (Digable Planets), Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayers, and Masauko. I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Jackson as I did an illustration based on “There Must Be Something” many years ago and had the opportunity to share it with him.
The song itself is slow and smooth. It is mostly comprised of the two singing in unison with words like, “We didn’t struggle all this time just to give up!” The keys on this song are melodic and progressive, moving forward, much like the point of this song, to keep on moving. Many times in our personal, artistic, professional, or political lives we hit barriers. This song helps me to see through the barriers and get past them. Check it out below and let me know how it moved you.
“Must Be Something” from Gil Scott-Heron’s Midnight Band