Here is a small list of songs I recommend from 1969-1975 about the harshness of city life; materialism, poverty, racism.
The music is as relevant today as it was then.
Links to the songs are provided.
Classic blues tale about getting out of the slums.
Played on the piano and sung by Gill Scott Heron; the American poet, singer and proto-rapper.
Interesting fact: Scott-Heron’s father, Giles “Gil” Heron (nicknamed “The Black Arrow”) was a Jamaican soccer player who, in the 1950s, was the first ever black player to play for Glasgow’s Celtic Football Club in the U.K.
This is a song about living to work, rather than working to live, but specifically, about the harshness of living in a city. One of Stevie Wonder’s best songs, on Innervisions.
Its hard for a woman in the ghetto. Marlena Shaw, one of the original soul divas, evokes this well. This song has been sampled more than once in 90s hip hop. The track I’ve linked is from the live version.
Great song, probably my favourite in this list. Not much to say, but except its from ‘What’s Going On?’ album. It’s funky and Marvin is playing the mellow vibes on the piano. Simply amazing.
Song about the gritty life of urban living. Taken from the album ‘There’s No Place Like America Today,’ one of the albums featured in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die published in 2005 by Cassell Illustrated.