I have searched the Internet to find the most interesting and informative quotes about to origins and impacts of rock and roll music. The following are organized by the musician who spoke the words. Because of their deep involvement in the creation and innovation of rock music these people really understand the role of rock music in society. Enjoy!
Click Name to read Person’s Quotes:
I said, other people can write songs, let’s see if I can. So the first 400 or 500 wound up on the floor somewhere. Then I wrote one called Melissa.
Clapton asked my brother to play on his record. I thought that was the most wonderful thing in the world.
I didn’t think we would ever make enough money to pay rent by playing music.
I got tired of playing other people’s songs.
I would like to be remembered as a – somebody who could rock your soul or make your cry with a song. And somebody who’s kind, who loved to laugh, and loved his God.
In my line of business, there’s no better feeling than having a real nice work that you’re really satisfied with.
The Beatles had just come out, and everybody had a band. It was incredible competition out there.
There are as many ways to write songs as there are songs.
When I got out of high school, I thought, I’ll take a year or two off and play the clubs, get this out of my system, and then go to med school.
Yeah, like, when I look back on my life, I just remember back what happened in ’74, or something. It seems like only the real good stuff comes to mind. I don’t think of all the tragedies and all the funerals. That just doesn’t come to mind at all. I guess I’m really blessed that way.
I’m a little short of time right now. I was a little short of time back then too.
I was so in debt, trying to buy amps and guitars and what have you, because we got, I think $440 a night, 6 nights a week, 6 sets a night, 45 minutes a set.
You couldn’t get a job playing in a club unless you played so much Top 40 and so many Beatles songs. I just went into a sort of revolt.
Also, right at that particular time in the music business, because of people like the Beatles, people began owning their own publishing. I’ll just say this really quickly – they used to divide the money for the music that was written in two, just equal halves.
I taught myself to play the piano, because I wanted to play it.
I told my father I wanted to play the banjo, and so he saved the money and got ready to give me a banjo for my next birthday, and between that time and my birthday, I lost interest in the banjo and was playing guitar.
I’d have to say that my favorite thing is writing a song that really says how I feel, what I believe – and it even explains the world to myself better than I knew it.
I’ve written many extra verses to songs that I learned to sing – an extra verse about a friend, or just add some verse – and that led to writing my own songs
Now, guitar was pretty cool. Everybody knew something on the guitar. So I wanted to play guitar, but I told my dad if he wanted me to keep studying something, I’d like to study piano.
People were learning to play traditional music, folk songs, and that’s a big field – that’s everything from blues to Appalachian music.
Right around the end of the fifties, college students and young people in general, began to realize that this music was almost like a history of our country – this music contained the real history of the people of this country.
So what I do, more than play any instrument – I mean, I love to play – but more than that, I write songs. Songs that are about living, about what it’s like to be going through all the things that people go through in life.
That folk music led to learning to play, and making things up led to what turns out to be the most lucrative part of the music business – writing, because you get paid every time that song gets played.
That’s maybe the most important thing each generation does, is to break a lot of rules and make up their own way of doing things.
The biggest influence? I’ve had several at different times – but the biggest for me was Bob Dylan, who was a guy that came along when I was twelve or thirteen and just changed all the rules about what it meant to write songs.
We have an open society. No one will come and take me away for saying what I am saying. But they don’t have to, if they can control how many people hear it. And that’s how they do it.
When I really started liking music was when I could play some of it myself, and after a couple of years of playing folk music, I kinda rediscovered those hits that were on the radio all the time when I was a kid.
You can take as much as you can from the generation that has preceded you, but then it’s up to you to make something new.
The idea that I wrote something that stood for the way I feel about things, and that it lasts, that’s probably my favorite thing that I’ve done.
And I try to give the best bang for the buck. I love performing more than anything else.
And I wound up in New Orleans for all those years and it was a great place, really a catalyst creatively.
And you find as a writer there are certain spots on the planet where you write better than others, and I believe in that. And New Orleans is one of them.
Elvis was the only man from Northeast Mississippi who could shake his hips and still be loved by rednecks, cops, and hippies.
First of all, to make it successfully as a performer and then to branch out into other areas that always interested and challenged me. it’s all about learning how to be a good performer and entertainer sort of created an audience, and the audience created a demand for other things.
Humor has bailed me out of more tight situations than I can think of. If you go with your instincts and keep your humor, creativity follows. With luck, success comes, too.
I can only say the first thing that pops into my mind is I remember, years ago, seeing kind of a has-been country singer working – when I first moved to Nashville – in a bar in a Holiday Inn.
I hate to mention age, but I come from an era when we weren’t consumed by technology and television.
I want to keep going as I have, to travel, read, perform, write, and enjoy my family.
I’m inspired by people who keep on rolling, no matter their age.
Instinct taught me 20 years ago to pace a song or a concert performance. That translates into pacing a story, pleasing a reading audience.
Places I’ve lived since then had to have some kind of uniqueness and character about them. And logically Key West, and then Down Island. So, all of that stuff sort of had it’s roots in New Orleans and went crazy.
The stores and the things like that, the business side of things came out at the point when, I’d say probably in the early ’70s, it looked like the year of the singer-songwriter was over, ’cause music changed in our time and the spotlight was out.
There’s something missing in the music industry today; and it’s music. Songs you hear don’t last, it’s just product fed to you by the industry.
You know, as a writer, I’m more of a listener than a writer, cuz if I hear something I will write it down.
I actually started playing when I was 13 and I went professional when I was 14. When I started, I loved music and the guitar impressed me. I grew up on country music and rhythm ‘n’ blues and so on, but I always loved the guitar and it was very interesting, to me, the sounds and the things going on with the guitar. Anyway, I just pretty much went with the guitar and I remember playing a few talent shows at the age of 13. I won a couple of them and my career just started progressing. I didn’t know if it was going to be a business for me or whatever, but I loved it so much, you know? I HAD to play guitar.
By the age of 14 I was working with a guy named Dale Hawkins who had a blues band and I wrote a little instrumental and it was called ‘Susie Q’. That became a pretty big record for Dale. Then I played at the Louisiana Hayride in my hometown at the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport with some wonderful talent like Roy Acuff, Hank Williams Sr. Elvis came there on October 16th 1954 and did his concert. The music was wonderful. When I first played there, I played in the staff band with guys like Floyd Cramer, Jimmy Day and just a lot of great players, playing behind George Jones and many great, wonderful country singers of that time.
I just loved playing guitar, and I couldn’t get enough. Playing behind people like George Jones and Johnny Horton at age 14 was simply amazing. I didn’t think about anything else-like what the business was all about-except playing with all these great singers.
With Elvis I never had one night off! It was no time off and no vacations and just non-stop. For a while I was going from eight o’clock in the morning to about 4am the same night and this went on for months and months. I did 4 or 5 studio sessions every day and 7 days a week.
Nothing was planned! You never knew what Elvis was going to do next. He might give you a whole solo or he might give you two or possibly cut you short, you never knew. You know the single we did ‘Promised Land’? If you listen to that, the first solo was actually supposed to be double–solo but Elvis came back in singing cutting it short. Then the second solo ended up being longer! Just spontaneous rock n’ roll!
Elvis walked up to me backstage, and he said:” James, I’m so nervous. I don’t know if I can do this.” I said:” Elvis, don’t worry about it. All you gotta do is walk out there.” And he said:” I don’t know, man. I’m so nervous I could climb the walls.” But I was right. When he walked out on that stage, it was just unbelievable. The audience was so loud, it sounded like a freight-train. People were screaming and hollering. I don’t think we heard anything the whole first show! He just had a way with the audience, he had great communication with them. It was a very interesting situation.
I was working with so many greats like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Ray Charles, Tom Jones.. the list goes forever! But a lot of fans just remember me mainly with Ricky & Elvis. Gram Parsons was, of course, very influential and also popular in the European market.
I played on a Byrd’s record. Gram was a singer in the Byrds. Gram and I were good friends. We used to go out to the Palomino Club in North Hollywood and jam. He’d always call, ‘Man, I’m going out tonight. I need you to come play guitar with me.’ We’d go out and play and he’d get up and sing. One day I got a phone call from Merle Haggard. Merle said, ‘Do you know this guy Gram Parsons?’ I said yeah I know Gram. He said, ‘Well, is he an okay country singer?’ I said yeah, he’s a good singer.
I met Ricky Nelson when I was 16. When I went to work with him—I guess I was with him for about eight and a half years. I think I was with him up until about ’64 or ’65. Then we did a TV show called Shindig. That was me and Delaney Bramlett—we were the Shindogs—me, Delaney, Julie Cooper, Chuck Blackwell and Glen Hardin.
I remember Townes Van Zandt real well. He was a good writer. I played a lot of Dobro stuff in his music. He was a sad writer. He kind of reminded me of Hank Williams.
In 1968 Elvis called me for the comeback special. That’s the one where he wore the black leather suit. I couldn’t do it because I was doing an album with Frank Sinatra with Jimmy Boyd producing. So I couldn’t do the Elvis comeback special on NBC. It was 1969 and he called me and we talked about three hours on the phone. He asked me if I’d be interested in putting a band together for him because he wanted to go play Vegas. He got tired of doing movies. He wanted to do some live shows.
Elvis and I became real good friends. His music was great. He was a great entertainer and it was like doing my show. When we would go play Vegas for a month, and after we played for a month, I’d go back to my home in L.A. in Burbank and record sessions with all my clients and different artists. When we’d get through recording, I’m back on the road with Elvis. Then, also, during that time with Elvis I was also working with Emmylou Harris. We started back in ‘74, I think. But from 1969 up to 1977, I played on everything Elvis put out. I was on everything. Nine years with Elvis. It was a cooking band…
I played on a lot of Merle Haggard records. The first one I played on with Merle was “The Bottle Let Me Down.” He wrote a song and he loved that style of playing’ I played on Ricky Nelson records, the name of that record was “You Just Can’t Quit”. I did a guitar lick on it and it blew him away. So, he called me and said, ‘Man, you got to play on my records.’ I did “Working Man Blues.” “Mama Tried”…
I played on Mamas and Papas records. The Beach Boys–going up to Brian Wilson’s house up in Bel Air, California and playing all weekend. The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith did a three-day recording at RCA and he wanted us to come and stay the whole weekend. He didn’t want us to go home. He said, ‘Stay here. We’ve got catered food—we’ve got everything you need here.’ We recorded for three days straight. Many, many great moments—especially with Elvis—like the satellite show (Aloha from Hawaii); millions of people saw that one. I’ve done some great projects with Johnny Cash. I cut all Michael Parks’ records with him. I played with Judy Collins, Buddy Emmons, Henry Mancini, Charlie Rich, Del Shannon, Jimmie Dale Gilmore….
I was home maybe two weeks, and I got a phone call from Ozzie. He invited me to come back and be Rick’s lead guitar player, which I thought was pretty cool. Ozzie said, “If you accept it, I’ll send you a telegram, just sign the telegram and send it back to me.” Rick got on the phone and we talked for an hour or two. He wanted me to come out the next day (laughing), I said, “Wait a minute! I’ve gotta make arrangements and get all my stuff together here.” I was only eighteen years old and I’m leaving home, you know.
I lived with Rick for the first year or two we worked together, and the Nelson family invited me into their home up in Camino Palmero in Hollywood. It just seems like our music really went together well and I think we were a good team. We worked closely, and we made some really nice music in our time span. I think Rick’s music is still very popular, and it’s just as good today as the day we recorded it.
Rick and I went out and played shows, sold out 30,000 and 40,000-seaters. We played Steel Pier at Atlantic City five years in a row to incredible audiences, we would play six or seven shows a day, we would come on and do twenty minutes, then Les Brown’s orchestra would play twenty minutes, Bobby Rydell, Jimmy Clanton, Dion & The Belmonts, groups like that coming in every twenty minutes. We went through 300,000 people a day doing shows, it was just incredible. We were traveling doing sold-out tours just like Elvis, and the screaming kids would yell, “Run over me, Ricky! Please, please, I love you, I love you!” You know how some of the die-hard fans can be, they’d just as soon have Rick or Elvis run over ‘em in a car, they don’t care.
Well Johnny Cash, his type of music was great, you know, back in the Sixties and everything. But he added more of a new wave type thing. He went for the Bob Dylan thing. In other words, more of a “message” type song, and the young kids really went for that. I don’t know if Elvis would… It seemed like Elvis just went for that big band sound, but he could do anything. That’s what is the beauty of his music and him; he had such a wonderful, great voice that he could sing any style of songs or music, be it pop, the big band sound or small groups.
I gave myself a deal; whatever has to be done as far as a sideman playing on records, I played all different styles for different singers. My style would fit pretty much anything. Of course, you broaden your musical ability by playing with so many different singers and different styles of music, so I never had any problems with work.
My early musical influences were the old blues stuff like Chuck Berry, Lightnin’ Hopkins, B.B. King, Bo Diddley, Elmore James, John Lee Hooker. Country music was my first love. I learned from those old country albums.
Elvis and I became real good friends. His music was great. He was a great entertainer and it was like doing my show. When we would go play Vegas for a month, and after we played for a month, I’d go back to my home in L.A. in Burbank and record sessions with all my clients and different artists. When we’d get through recording, I’m back on the road with Elvis. But from 1969 up to 1977, I played on everything Elvis put out. I was on everything. Nine years with Elvis. It was a cooking band.
Johnny Cash called me to play on Shindig. The show was number one for a year, and then it went off the air. I met the Rolling Stones on Shindig, as well as the Kinks, the Who, and the Yardbirds. I even played on some of the Yardbirds records back in the early days. I don’t remember exactly what I played on, but I remember being on some of that stuff. I was booked solid in those days, doing like five sessions a day, seven days a week, and it was just crazy. I’d go from, say, Ray Charles to Merle Haggard to the Beach Boys to the Mamas and the Papas-and I was also playing on Phil Spector’s recordings over at Gold Star Studios. I played on a lot of records where you probably wouldn’t even know it was me.
After about three lessons the voice teacher said, “Don’t take voice lessons. Do it your way.”
I start a lot more songs than I finish, because I realize when I get into them, they’re no good. I don’t throw them away, I just put them away, store them, get them out of sight.
If you can hold your listener, hold their attention, and you’re sure you know what you’re doing, and know that you’re communicating – You know, performance is communicating.
You’ve got to communicate. You’ve got a song you’re singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut.
It’s like a novelist writing far out things. If it makes a point and makes sense, then people like to read that. But if it’s off in left field and goes over the edge, you lose it. The same with musical talent, I think.
That was the big thing when I was growing up, singing on the radio. The extent of my dream was to sing on the radio station in Memphis. Even when I got out of the Air Force in 1954, I came right back to Memphis and started knocking on doors at the radio station.
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past.
You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
You’ve got to know your limitations. I don’t know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.
A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.
A lot of people can’t stand touring but to me it’s like breathing. I do it because I’m driven to do it.
A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.
All I can do is be me, whoever that is.
Basically you have to suppress your own ambitions in order to be who you need to be.
Being noticed can be a burden. Jesus got himself crucified because he got himself noticed. So I disappear a lot.
Being on tour is like being in limbo. It’s like going from nowhere to nowhere.
I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me.
I’m speaking for all of us. I’m the spokesman for a generation.
Just because you like my stuff doesn’t mean I owe you anything.
People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around – the music and the ideas.
There is nothing so stable as change.
To live outside the law, you must be honest.
You learn from a conglomeration of the incredible past – whatever experience gotten in any way whatsoever.
I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.
At times in my life the only place I have been happy is when I am on stage.
I`ve got the god given talent or the god given opportunity better put, to let that out in a harmless way you know, and I don`t know what it does to you, I don`t really know.
I just managed to convince my grandmother that it was a worth while that was something to do, you know, and when I did finally get the guitar, it didn`t seem that difficult to me, to be able to make a good noise out of it.
It`s very dependent on your state of mind. And your emotional state as well. And a lot of it comes pouring out, you don`t really have that much control with it.
Yeah, I wanted to know where they got it from, what it was all about, you know, and it seemed to strike something in me that was you know rearing it`s head and I still don`t know what that is.
This moment in time, on this tour, you know, I`m discovering a lot of new things. And to be 45 and doing that, it`s a mixture of pleasure and pain, I can assure you.
When you came knocking on the door this morning I was quite happy playing the guitar, for fun, I mean and not practicing and I`ll always be that way.
It was a mystery to me, how the tuning was, or the style seemed to come out of nowhere, it obviously had roots in America going way back, there was nothing like it for me I`d ever seen before.
You know, that`s it, there`s no turning back because what it`s made of is so fine. It`s like crystal, you know, it`s like the purest crystal.
I mean, it didn’t matter to me that there were people, it didn’t matter that I was shy Just the sound was so captivating that it helped me to get rid of those inhibitions.
I mean, the sound of an amplified guitar in a room full of people was so hypnotic and addictive to me, that I could cross any kind of border to get on there.
You were at school and you were pimply and no one wanted to know you. You get into a group and you`ve got thousands of chicks there.
One summer I remember, I got exposed to Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly was a very very big, made a very big impression on me. Because of a lot of things, you know, the way he looked and his charisma.
It was stumbling on to really the bible of the blues, you know, and a very powerful drug to be introduced to us and I absorbed it totally, and it changed my complete outlook on music.
Leave bands, go back to obscurity if I choose to, without a great sense of loss of security because it`s all been based on the fact that I did it on my own or was doing, enjoying doing it on my own in the first place.
The blues are what I’ve turned to, what has given me inspiration and relief in all the trials of my life.
I would challenge anybody to come up with a better design for a guitar. The Stratocaster is as good as it gets.
When all the original blues guys are gone, you start to realize that someone has to tend to the tradition. I recognize that I have some responsibility to keep the music alive, and it`s a pretty honorable position to be in.
I am, and always will be, a blues guitarist.
Given the choice between accomplishing something and just lying around, I`d rather lie around. No contest.
But I did go to music really early on, even when I was 4 or 5, I was responding to music probably in ways other kids were not.
But the guitar, when you think about it, is the most versatile, really. I mean you can pick it up and take it with you wherever you go.
From the beginning, I knew intuitively that if nothing else, music was safe, and that nobody could tell me anything about it. Music didn’t need a middleman, whereas all the other things in school needed some kind of explanation.
Given the choice between accomplishing something and just lying around, I’d rather lie around. No contest.
I remember when I thought of singing as the bit that went between the guitar playing – something I couldn’t wait to get out of the way. Singing was originally like a chore that I didn’t really enjoy.
I sought my father in the world of the black musician, because it contained wisdom, experience, sadness and loneliness. I was not ever interested in the music of boys. From my youngest years, I was interested in the music of men.
I’d love to knock an audience cold with one note, but what do you do for the rest of the evening?
I found my God in music and the arts, with writers like Hermann Hesse, and musicians like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter. In some way, in some form, my God was always there, but now I have learned to talk to him.
At first the music almost repelled me, it was so intense, and this man made no attempt to sugarcoat what he was trying to say, or play. It was hard-core, more than anything I had ever heard. After a few listenings I realized that, on some level, I had found the master, and that following this man’s example would be my life’s work.
If you hand me a guitar, I’ll play the blues. That’s the place I automatically go.
I have always been resistant to doctrine, and any spirituality I had experienced thus far in my life had been much more abstract and not aligned with any recognized religion. For me, the most trustworthy vehicle for spirituality had always proven to be music. It cannot be manipulated, or politicized, and when it is, that becomes immediately obvious.
My definition of Blues is that it’s a musical form which is very disciplined and structured coupled with a state of mind, and you can have either of those things but it’s the two together that make it what it is. And you need to be a student for one, and a human being for the other, but those things alone don’t do it.
And I now think that Stratocasters and Telecasters are way cool.
Bluegrass dobro can be very pretty, and I knew I wanted that sound instead of a Delta blues, National steel-body sound.
But I think beautiful is simple and elegant, like a ballad with simple harmony.
Even though I have often recorded alone, I still feel the best music is made by musicians playing off each other.
Even though James Burton was my idol, I didn’t think I could carry his shoes back then.
I had gotten screwed, stolen from, and cheated so many times, I just couldn’t seem to separate the songs from the memories.
I love the old Fender tweed amps, and I love vintage Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, Juniors and Supros.
I loved Western Swing and Hank Williams’ music, and I now know that it’s a 6th tuning that gives you all of those classic licks.
I thought what I was good at doing was playing real simple guitar licks, since I’d cut my teeth on what Duane Eddy was doing; licks that were simple but had staying power.
I used a great old ’52 Les Paul that’s been converted with PAFs on that song; there’s nothing else that sounds like that.
I was bitten by the dobro bug about four years ago; I’d get up at three o’clock in the morning to practice, and I tried to apply what I’d learned to a lap steel.
I went pretty much for one tone, and I knew at that time that I wanted to play a Rickenbacker.
I work hard at that, but the fact that there are a lot of good songs means there are also a lot of really bad songs I’ve written that you never hear.
I’d like to think I’ve gotten better in my playing, and I’ve been woodshedding for a few years, and I’m still amazed at how many times I cross over the footsteps of James Burton.
I’m like a twenty-two-year-old kid in a new band trying to get noticed and break through, because the vast majority of people have never seen me play live.
I’m much more energetic now; you might say live performance is my mission.
I’m now comfortable playing a lot of the old songs, and I’ve gotten out a lot of the old equipment.
I’ve also become much more the musician I’ve always wanted to be.
I’ve studied a lot of great people over the years – Pete Seeger, James Brown – and tried to incorporate elements that I’ve admired, though I can’t say I dance like James.
In those days, I didn’t know how guys like Clapton and Beck were getting that searing blues lead sound, so I developed my style to be rhythmic and chord-based, with simple lead lines that you could almost hum.
I’ve always felt that with true talent, and a commitment to hard work, it is possible to achieve an enduring respect and appreciation. In other words, I don’t take my fans for granted.
There are just not a lot of guys around playing like that these days; a lot of steel players are plugging into stomp boxes, trying to sound like Jeff Beck on a steel guitar.
Well, I go way back with that influence. I started going to Memphis in 1968; I met Knox Phillips, Sam’s son, and we talked about things like slap-back echo.
You should play with real musicians; the best music comes from real people interacting with each other.
And for me there’s still more material than 20 lifetimes that I can use up.
And the live show is still our main thing.
And there’s a lot of that stuff with people bringing their kids, kids bringing their parents, people bringing their grandparents – I mean, it’s gotten to be really stretched out now. It was never my intention to say, this is the demographics of our audience.
Hunter can write a melody and stuff like that, but his forte is lyrics. He can write a serviceable melody to hang his lyrics on, and sometimes he comes up with something really nice.
I don’t know why, it’s the same reason why you like some music and you don’t like others. There’s something about it that you like. Ultimately I don’t find it’s in my best interests to try and analyze it, since it’s fundamentally emotional.
I mean, just because you’re a musician doesn’t mean all your ideas are about music. So every once in a while I get an idea about plumbing, I get an idea about city government, and they come the way they come.
I’ve always been really fond – in folk music, I’ve always been fond of the fragment – the song that has one verse. And you don’t know anything about the characters, you don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re doing something important. I love that. I’m really a sucker for that kind of song.
Music, once you’re in that thing where it gets to be so facile, where it’s all technique and no substance. It looked like it was going to hang there for a good long time, but luckily it didn’t last very long, because ultimately it’s really boring. People are not that interested in it. Our strong suit is what we do, and our audience.
The alternate media are becoming important and viable alternatives to playing live – Records, videos, that kind of thing. They’re going to start to count for something. Because there’s only a limited amount of us-time available to us.
You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.
The first guitar player I saw putting on a show was Guitar Slim – I must’ve been 13 years old – he came out riding that guitar, wearing a bright red suit. I thought; ‘I wanna sound like BB King, but I wanna play guitar like THAT.
Somebody called Muddy and told him he should come down and hear me play. I didn’t even know he was out there in the audience. After the show, I was talking to some people when somebody came up and slapped me upside the head.
Everyone thinks because you’re from the south you know everyone down there, but it’s not like that; I never knew nothing about no Mississippi.
I’m going through a divorce now. This is the second one, and like baseball, I’m not gonna get three strikes. I’ve been living by myself for five years and I’m very comfortable. I can play my guitar when I want to.
Listen to the lyrics – we’re singing about everyday life: rich people trying to keep money, poor people tying to get it, and everyone having trouble with their husband or wife!
This is the kind of record I’ve wanted to do all along. Anytime I can go out and play with somebody (like the musicians on the album), something gets inside of me to make my hair stand up.
Once I was checking to hotel and a couple saw my ring with Blues on it. They said, ‘You play blues. That music is so sad.’ I gave them tickets to the show, and they came up afterwards and said, ‘You didn’t play one sad song.’
If you don’t think you’ve got the blues, just keep living, and if you don’t think you’re drunk, just keep drinking what you’re drinking.
Why did they keep changing guitars and amplifiers when they were perfect? They did the same things with cars, if you ask me. They forgot how to make them right, because they focused on style and bells and whistles.
I’ve never missed a gig yet. Music makes people happy, and that’s why I go on doing it – I like to see everybody smile.
It’s all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back
Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
Life’s just a cocktail party – on the street.
The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way is the one that achieves madness.
Don’t you think it’s sometimes wise not to grow up.
Anarchy is the only slight glimmer of hope.
You wake up in the morning and you look at your old spoon, and you say to yourself, ‘Mick, it’s time to get yourself a new spoon.’ And you do.
People have this obsession. They want you to be like you were in 1969. They want you to, because otherwise their youth goes with you. It’s very selfish, but it’s understandable.
A lot of times songs are very much of a moment, that you just encapsulate. They come to you, you write them, you feel good that day, or bad that day.
Thank you for leaving us alone but giving us enough attention to boost our egos.
The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.
I believe we should encourage children to sing and play instruments from an early age.
I came into music just because I wanted the bread. It’s true. I looked around and this seemed like the only way I was going to get the kind of bread I wanted.
I must be careful not to get trapped in the past. That’s why I tend to forget my songs.
I don’t really count myself as a very sophisticated businessperson. I’m a creative artist. All I know from business I’ve picked up along the way.
And the whole thing is that you’re treated like a step-child. Here it was down here, everything in the black, because they were stealing, basically. Stealing from us old country boys down here.
Because Ritchie Valens WAS the real deal. He was only starting, but in the time he spent in the business, he made big impact. I don’t know if anybody could have made a bigger one.
Besides that, I felt guilty. I thought for some reason… I was alive, and Buddy and those boys were dead, and I didn’t know how, but somehow I’d caused it.
It was all devastating. I’d never dealt with losing anyone close to me, and I didn’t know where to put it in my life. I was very young then. Buddy taught me so much in such a short time.
But Buddy was an upper. He was happy. He loved music, and he was really happy. I don’t know… I don’t believe in reincarnation at all, but if all that stuff is true, then he might have been on his last time around.
Mainly what I learned from Buddy… was an attitude. He loved music, and he taught me that it shouldn’t have any barriers to it.
Now, I don’t know how they judge all that, but if anybody in the world deserves to be in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Ritchie Valens does.
But ya know what, I am a part of something that happened. I’m a part of the music that happened. My voice is one more instrument, is what it is. So that’s the way I feel about people who play on sessions.
But you know, the system almost destroyed itself while it was goin’ on trying to destroy us.
Chet loved artists. He did. But he was caught up in the system. He had two hats. He had to have ’em because he did two things: he was an artist, and he was an executive.
I was never pretty anyway and never cared anything about that.
Don’t ever try and be like anybody else and don’t be afraid to take risks.
Finally, my manager negotiated a deal where I got to produce my own records.
Honesty is something you can’t wear out.
I ain’t got no reverse. I’ve learned, a little later in life, it works out pretty good to have one every once in a while.
I didn’t aim at anything except good music.
I love Johnny Cash, and I respect Johnny Cash. He’s the biggest. He’s like an Elvis in this business, but no, he’s never been the rebel.
I mean, I think we’re put here on earth to make your own destiny, to begin with. I don’t think there’s anything you can do this way or that way to change anything.
I never have any problem getting enthusiastic with a good song and a good band.
I was king of the mountain for a long time, well, I don’t want that no more. I like to perform every once in a while for people who want to see me, and cut albums of music that is what I’m really about.
One thing is that I wasn’t getting booked that well, and they had control over who got the awards, they had control over who sold. And they really did not want Willie or me, either one, to have a hit record. They wanted the money, but they didn’t want us to be the ones.
So I’m not very popular here with those inside the system, as you might guess. I never wanted to be.
The only problem was I needed to use my own group, and things didn’t happen until I did. It wasn’t a real country sound, what I did. I’ve listened to it, and I think it was more a west coast rock thing, you know? But it fit. It was country, but it was my own interpretation of country.
The rock and roll spirit. I learned a lot of that because I worked with Buddy Holly. I played bass with him, and he taught me a lot about that.
You know, I feel sorry for the young artists.
You know, in the days when I started, if you had Chet Atkins’ name on your record as a producer and it was on RCA, you could work the road. It didn’t have to be a big hit record, it just had to have that on it.
But in my imagination this whole thing developed and I started mixing up old folk songs with the Beatles beat and taking them down to Greenwich Village and playing them for the people there.
But the idea of mixing the folk and the rock act came ready-made from New York.
I always got a kick out of it when they called it the California Sound because it really came out of Liverpool and Greenwich Village.
I got a 12-string very early on and it wasn’t my main instrument, but something that was certainly part of my repertoire.
I play a couple basic folks songs and break them down. I did that on a six string. I can’t recall all the songs on it. There’s some finger picking on it.
I was influenced by Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Bob Gibson and a lot of the folk singers.
I went to the south side of Chicago and got what I thought was a Stella, but it had a spruce top. It was a nice sounding guitar.
Now, you can just get a laptop, get some software, put a microphone on it and make a record. You have to know how to do it. It does help if you’ve had 35 or 40 years of experience in the studio. But, it still levels the playing field so artists can record their own stuff.
Once I’ve written a song, I sometimes refine them.
I’ll work out a chord pattern and work out the lyrics over that.
Once in a while and really the exception, will be when I have an idea, then I’ll write a poem first and then write a tune to the poem.
That’s my favorite subject because it really levels the playing field for artists these days. You don’t have to sell out to the record company. You don’t have to get a five hundred thousand dollars, or whatever, and pay them back for the rest of your life to record a record.
The first 12-string guitar I bought was probably around 1957.
Well, I guess that early 12 string. The first Martin I bought. I bought it around 1957 with money I earned as a janitor assistant. I bought brand new. I still have that.
When you’re sitting in front of a computer like my folk tune project, you can listen to it in MP3 and see the lyrics and the chords and story about the song. You can listen to it and learn it right off the DVD. It’s still a one-on-one experience for the person who’s watching it.
Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.
I’ve never had inner turmoil about all this. You find a lot of people these days who cannot stand to be alone. You could lock me up in solitary for weeks on end, and I’d keep myself amused.
It’s really good to be here and as I always say, it’s really good to be anywhere!
Some people think I’m a mythical genius, others think I’m a junkie madman.
I don’t have a problem with drugs, I have a problem with policemen.
There’s something beautifully friendly and elevating about a bunch of guys playing music together. This wonderful little world that is unassailable. It’s really teamwork, one guy supporting the others, and it’s all for one purpose, and there’s no flies in the ointment, for a while. And nobody conducting, it’s all up to you. It’s really jazz. That’s the big secret. Rock and roll ain’t nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat.
We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts remain.
What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people’s hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you’re playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack.
The rock’s easy, but the roll is another thing…
I firmly believe if you want to be a guitar player, you better start on acoustic and then graduate to electric. Don’t think you’re going to be Townshend or Hendrix just because you can go wee wee wah wah, and all the electronic tricks of the trade. First you’ve got to know that fucker. And you go to bed with it. If there’s no babe around, you sleep with it. She’s just the right shape.
Rock and roll ain’t nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat.
One of the great things about songwriting; it’s not an intellectual experience
But I’m not here just to make records and money. I’m here to say something and to touch other people, sometimes in a cry of desperation: Do you know this feeling?
And then I think we realized, like any young guys, that blues are not learned in a monastery. You’ve got to go out there and get your heart broke and then come back and then you can sing the blues.
I am not doing it just for the money or for you.I am doing it for me.
You’re sitting with some guys, and you’re playing and you go, Ooh, yeah! That feeling is worth more than anything. There’s a certain moment when you realize that you’ve actually just left the planet for a bit and that nobody can touch you. You’re elevated because you’re with a bunch of guys that want to do the same thing as you. And when it works, baby, you’ve got wings. You know you’ve been somewhere most people will never get; you’ve been to a special place.
Love has sold more songs than you’ve had hot dinners.
There’s a canvas, it’s called silence. Where do you want to make your mark? A little dab here? And don’t forget, don’t cover the whole canvas — we don’t want a Rubens here!
To learn the blues, it takes a while, and you never stop. What did I learn? I learnt how to learn the blues, but I ain’t stopped.
Chuck Berry is food — the man who brought you Sweet Little Sixteen, Too Much Monkey Business, Roll Over Beethoven. Unfortunately, his biggest-selling record was My Ding-a-Ling. But that’s his own preoccupation; I don’t want to go there.
Rock ‘n’ roll’s great weapon is humor.
I love to play lead, too, but I like to sneak in, which is why I love to play with Ronnie [Wood]. With a quick nod and a wink, we can switch over in what we call the ancient form of weaving. It’s a druidic sort of thing, we like to think, very mystical — ha!
Electric is another instrument. Yeah, it looks the same and you’ve got to make the same moves, but you have to learn how to tame the beast. Because it is a monster.
You can’t believe how great this job is. I’ll do it as long as people want to listen to it.
If you don’t know the blues… there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music.
I mean, give me a guitar, give me a piano, give me a broom and string, I wouldn’t get bored anywhere.
I look for ambiguity when I’m writing because life is ambiguous.
Good music comes out of people playing together, knowing what they want to do and going for it. You have to sweat over it and bug it to death. You can’t do it by pushing buttons and watching a TV screen.
And it was a very, very fruitful and great relationship between the Stones and The Beatles. It was very, very friendly.
To make a rock’n’roll record, technology is the least important thing.
Another thing to do with the blues is how they were recorded. They were done on the quick, and some of that stuff was made on wire, not even tape, let alone digital.
This is the rock ‘n’ roll life, and you had to invent it as you went along. There was no textbook to say how you operate this machinery.
I was always singing the way I felt, and maybe I didn’t exactly know it, but I just didn’t like the way things were down there-in Mississippi.
I been in the blues all my life. I’m still delivering ’cause I got a long memory.
I rambled all the time. I was just like that, like a rollin’ stone.
I stone got crazy when I saw somebody run down them strings with a bottleneck. My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and I said that I had to learn.
I wanted to definitely be a musician or a good preacher or a heck of a baseball player. I couldn’t play ball too good – I hurt my finger, and I stopped that. I couldn’t preach, and well, all I had left was getting into the music thing.
I wanted to get out of Mississippi in the worst way. Go back? What I want to go back for?
I was messing around with the harmonica… but I was 13 before I got a real good note out of it.
If you got something you don’t want other people to know, keep it in your pocket.
Man, you don’t know how I felt that afternoon when I heard that voice and it was my own voice.
Now that I’m gettin’ old enough to get some money, I’d like to have some money. I don’t get much made, I need to conquer a big chunk of money. Not quit playin’ but quit playin’ so hard.
Of course that was my idol, Son House. I think he did a lot for the Mississippi slide down there.
Oh, I started out young. They handed me a cotton sack when I was about 8 years old. Give me a little small one, tell me to fill it up. I never did like the farm but I was out there with my grandmother, didn’t want to get away from around her too far.
Saturday night is your big night. Everybody used to fry up fish and have one hell of a time. Find me playing till sunrise for 50 cents and a sandwich. And be glad of it. And they really liked the low-down blues.
That Mississippi sound, that Delta sound is in them old records. You can hear it all the way through.
You get a heck of a sound from the church. Can’t you hear it in my voice?
There’s no way in the world I can feel the same blues the way I used to. When I play in Chicago, I’m playing up-to-date, not the blues I was born with. People should hear the pure blues – the blues we used to have when we had no money.
I got that first record out, it came out in ’47… Then my name began to ring around. I began to take over. From that point, I tell you, Chicago was in my hand, all the more time that those guys had to listen to me.
The thing about San Francisco is that it has this kind of magical quality,
Them older people… they didn’t think you could make it in no kind of city. They think if you get in the city-starvation.
I think if people value democracy, they had damn well better get out and exercise their right to vote while their vote still means something.
They’re protecting an archaic industry. They should turn their attention to new models.
We found in the late ’90s that if we didn’t do a certain number of the old chestnuts, people weren’t gonna come to hear the new stuff.
We wanted to establish a new fan base over here. And second, we wanted to challenge ourselves. We wanted to bring what is ostensibly new music to fresh ears and see what lights them up.
Well, at the risk of being repetitious, we’re gonna do another song in the key of D.
Well, when I’m writing the music, I just follow my fingers, and follow the thread that hopefully emerges in the music.
What I like best about music is when time goes away.
ll the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.
Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.
Communism doesn’t work because people like to own stuff.
I searched for years I found no love. I’m sure that love will never be a product of plasticity.
Most people wouldn’t know music if it came up and bit them on the ass.
Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.
Music is always a commentary on society.
Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something.
No change in musical style will survive unless it is accompanied by a change in clothing style. Rock is to dress up to.
One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people’s minds.
Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.
The computer can’t tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what’s missing is the eyebrows.
The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.
There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we’d all love one another.
There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.
Without deviation progress is not possible.
You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.