When you listen to Miles Davis, how much of what you hear is music, and how much is context?
Context is everything that isn't physically contained in the grooves of the record. It includes your knowledge that everyone else says he's great: that must modify the way you hear him. That he was a handsome and imposing man, a member of a romantic minority, that he played with Charlie Parker, that he spans generations, that he underwent various addictions, that he married Cicely Tyson, that he dressed well, that Jean-Luc Godard liked him, that he wore shades and was very cool, that he himself said little about his work, and so on.
Surely all that affects how you hear him: I mean, could it possibly have felt the same if he'd been an overweight heating engineer from Oslo?
When you listen to music, aren't you also 'listening' to all the stuff around it, too?Brian Eno
Cherish forever what makes you unique, 'cuz you're really a yawn if it goes.Bette Midler
I've never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.Virgil Thompson
I remember coming to a concert where they had a big catered meal set out for everyone.
I went and said, "Miles, man, you gotta see all this food they got here."
You have two options. You can stay the same and protect the formula that gave you your initial success. They're going to crucify you for staying the same. If you change, they're going to crucify you for changing, but staying the same is boring. So, of the two options I'd rather be crucified for changing.Joni Mitchell
The only way to know how much is enough, is to do too much, and then back up.Jerry Jeff Walker
At the end of the show, he'll leave the stage, and the sirens will be going, and the limosines waiting, and Charlie Watts will walk back to his drumkit and change the position of his drumsticks by two millimeters. Then he'll look at it. Then if it looks good, he'll leave.
The drums are about to be stripped down and put in the back of a truck, and he cannot leave if he's got it in his mind that he's left his sticks in a displeasing way.Keith Richards
Sometimes you would feel this presence together with the audience and the band, which was just such a mindblower.
It felt better than the other gigs. You felt some sort of connection, where there was a whole wave of five or ten thousand people coming at you. You felt that you and the audience were actually one.Ringo Starr
WRITER TO FRANK ZAPPA: Have there been parts of your life that you've neglected because you've been absorbed in your music?
FRANK ZAPPA: Well what am I missing? Do I regret not going horseback riding, or learning how to water ski? Well, no. I don't want to climb mountains, I don't want to do bungie-jumping. I haven't missed any of those things. If you're absorbed by something, what's to miss?Frank Zappa
I talk to many young painters, because I teach art in schools. I ask them:
Why do you think that what you do ends at the edges of this canvas?
Think of the frame. What frame are you working in? Not just that bit of wood around the edge, but the room you're in, the light you're in, the time and place you're in. How can you redesign it?
I would say that to musicians, too. I see them spending a lot of time working on the internal details of what they're doing and far less time working on the ways of positioning it in the world.
By "positioning it" I don't only mean thinking of ways to get it to a record company, but thinking of where it could go, and where it fits in the cultural picture. What else does it relate to?Brian Eno
Anybody that forms a group, writes songs and releases records and says they don't care if people like them are complete liars.James Dean Bradfield
Failure, for some people, is a vital survival skill.
To work at an artistic level that has some chance of changing the world means risking that your work will change you.
We all know people who have lots of drive, talent, and stability, people whose ideas fall perfectly in place at the leading edge of the mass audience input curve, but who just aren't successful. They work hard and they mean well, but things never quite jell for them, you know?
My bet is they've already signed an unknown contract to fail.
The point about working is not to produce great stuff all the time, but to remain ready for when you can.
There's no point in saying, "I don't have an idea today, so I'll just smoke some drugs." You should stay alert for the moment when a number of things are just ready to collide with one another.
A lot of factors go toward creating a work: technological considerations that suddenly are a little exciting to you, some feeling or mood, a nice day, you just had a talk with a friend. All sorts of things will coincide - and that moment doesn't last for long. It's like things in orbit; they'll move away again.Brian Eno
Without Elvis, none of us could have made it.Buddy Holly
I don't care who likes it or buys it.
Because if you use that criterion, Mozart would have never written Don Giovanni, Charlie Parker never would have played anything but swing music.
There comes a point at which you have to stand up and say, this is what I have to do.Branford Marsalis
Not everyone is going to like what I do, and that's something I can accept.
If everyone liked what I did, I probably wouldn't be playing anything of depth.Joshua Redman
I can't duplicate my own successes, because part of the creation of that effect is making something happen that you didn't expectBrian Eno
Should a record be a picture of where you are now, or of all the places you could just as likely be?Brian Eno
You can tell whether a person plays or not by the way he carries the instrument, whether it means something to him or not.
Then the way they talk and act. If they act too hip, you know they can't play shit.Miles Davis
The general attitude is, "I want it, and I want it now!"
But it really takes years if you're going to do it right, and a lot of kids just don't want to take the time to work on it and see where it's all going, and what it means, and where it comes from, and how they should apply it and use it in playing their songs.
It doesn't make any difference how technically good you are or fast you are or how many notes you know. You just can't do it in two years.Johnny Winter
No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.William Blake
Musicians and other artists interact constantly with at least two types of systems: systems of aesthetics (what will sound good? what type of music to work with?) and economic systems that reward, or fail to reward, their efforts.
If you're confronting a set of results that you don't want, rather than trying to force the existing system to yield up a different kind of results, you might better spend your energy creating an alternative system!
This could mean anything from establishing your own concert outlet for non-commercial music to designing your own microtonal scale.Brian Eno
Some people have a great sense of moral responsibility. Unfortunately it's backed up with a poor sense of musical taste.
Other people have great musical ability, and very little sense of moral responsibility.
I considered losing my virginity a career move.Madonna
Often in life you are confronted by many possibilities. The best thing you can do is just go for one with a quick decision, then make that choice work for you. It takes you to interesting places with surprising results.Brian Eno
The road to success is always under construction.Anton Figg
As for fame being power, and all power corrupting, that really isn't the case.
Power per se is neither positive nor negative. Lots of famous people are perfectly nice folks... but they either started out that way or else screwed up so badly along the path they were forced to get their act together.
Don't be ashamed of your own ideas. Most musicians get applauded for sounding like someone else.
People try something out that they think is exciting, and everyone looks a little unsure. Then they play an old James Brown riff and everyone's saying: 'Wow! That's what we want!'
Most of the time musicians are being encouraged to sound recognizable. What I'm doing [as a producer] is encouraging them at the points when they're not.Brian Eno
I always thought Jaco's talent was a curse, in a way. Because no matter how fucked up he got on the bandstand, he could still play. The same thing happened with Bird. Their great talent enabled both of them to continue doing drugs and getting away with it, because they kept getting encouragement from people around them who told them how great they sounded. Jaco would play a great solo, and he'd be sitting on top of the world again, feeling invincible, with an attitude like, "There's nothing wrong with me." Jaco's talent was like a double edged sword-it made it impossible for him to see how terrible things really were becoming.Mike Stern
The best chance you have, if you want to rise, is to give yourself up to loneliness, fear nothing, and work hard.Mark Helprin
Avant-garde music is a sort of research music. You're glad someone's done it but you don't necessarily want to listen to it.
It's similar to the way I'm very happy people have gone to the North Pole. It extends my concept of the planet to know it exists, but I don't want to live there, or even go there actually. But it's a boundary condition.Brian Eno
Being completely free to choose what to do is actually quite difficult: it can lead you to very depressive crises.
If your time is structured you don't have this problem of "what am I going to do today?"Brian Eno
Recognize those little moments that define your success.
Just taking a step is a success. Finishing a great song - even if no one hears it - is a success. Getting into a song competition - even if you don't win - is a success. A kind word of validation is a success.
When you wake up every day and realize that you're living your dream, that is the ultimate success.Lydia Hutchinson
It's disgraceful how long records take to make nowadays. But I'm Mr Stingy, Mr Cut Through Options. That's one reason people like working with me I think, because I say "Do this, this is fine, we'll make it work."
Exploring all the options is not the issue. It's making one of them work.Brian Eno
John Lennon was always looking for the impossible, the unattainable. He was never satisfied.
He once said to me years later, "You know, George, I've never really liked anything we've ever done." I said, "Really John? But you made some fantastic records!" He said, "Well, if I could do them all over again I would."George Martin
It doesn't matter if you're the greatest guitar player in the world. If you're not enlightened, forget it.George Harrison
Once of the nice things about being successful in this business is that you get to work with successful people.
They have the finances to hire the best musicians and work in the best studios with the best equipment. After that you've got to be stupid not to get the best sound.Al Schmitt
Being a record producer is the best paid form of cowardice. Producers often get praised but they have to do a really bad job for anyone to criticise them.Brian Eno
You work on a piece of music, you put in certain ingredients, and suddenly they react in a way you hadn't predicted. If you're alert to that reaction, that's what you work from. If you're stupid, you try to cancel that reaction out.
A lot of people have such a fixed image of what the product should be that they refuse to allow any deviation. Again and again, they'll force the music into a mold until it goes where they want it to go. This generally leads to quite uninteresting music - or uninteresting anything.Brian Eno
If you're going to sweep the floor, sweep it better than anybody in town.
And if you're going to play the guitar, really, really, really get in it, and don't be jivin'.Carlos Santana
The problem with thinking about your own past is you forget its genesis and start to feel useless awe towards your earlier self.Brian Eno
The way children learn is by pretending, imagining what it would be like to be in another situation, which is the essence of culture.
There's this crazy supposition that at the age of 16 or 18 you should suddenly switch all that off because you now know what you're doing, but the people I find interesting are the ones who carry on playing that game.Brian Eno
The problem facing you as an artist is the degree to which you are willing to alter your art, if required, to stay within the current bounds of the loop.
First time out, no problem. You create something. People like it or they don't, and it really doesn't matter which way the dice tumble, so long as you are now out of the closet as an artist.
The real problem enters when you have finally put together a piece of art that a lot of people like; that day when you achieve "success." Like it or not, you have also become a brand. An identity. Score twice in the same category and you've virtually tattooed it across your forehead.
The marketing superstructure that automatically surrounds commercial success will bring pressure against trying anything new.Connor Freff Cochran
You start to become what you sing. If you aren't where you want to be with your career, what have you been singing about day after day?Jared Kessler
You can know what you DON'T want, and a lot of the process of making a record comes to be the task of finding a cultural space that isn't already ringing with unwanted resonances and over-tones.
This can be a new space, one that no one had identified before, or, it can be an old one that suddenly sounds fresh again.Brian Eno
I always liked the cusp where something feels if it's familiar but strange at the same time.
It doesn't immediately assault you as being completely weird. You feel seduced by it. But at the same time you can't put your finger on what it is that you recognize. It's a very good feeling.Brian Eno
A strong opinion is very useful to other people.Brian Eno
"Hollywoodization": This is the process where things are evened out, rationalized, nicely lit from all sides, carefully balanced, studiously tested against all known formulae, referred to several committees, and finally made triumphantly unnoticeable.Brian Eno
To me, the ideal audience-to-artist relationship is one-to-zero relationship.
I'm not happy with words like "artist" and "public" and the hierarchical implications.
The artist should be permitted anonymity, unaware of the presumed demand of the marketplace. They'll make contact on a much more meaningful level.Glenn Gould
Give the people what they want, and they will give you what you want.William Ballester
Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to.Henry Dyke
I've practiced my tone for almost 50 years, and if I can't hear my tone, I can't play. If I can't play, then I won't get paid. If I don't get paid, then I lose the house, you know?
It's like a chain reaction. If I lose my tone, I can't fuck, can't make love, can't do nothin'. I'll just walk into the ocean and die, if I lose my tone.Miles Davis
When you make your peace with authority, you become an authority.Jim Morrison
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.Jerry Garcia
There are two ways of being an artist. One is to really explore one furrow - like Randy Newman or Joni Mitchell. They're people who've got one territory and they really, really examine it. Saying, "This is my language and I'll get better and better at speaking it."
But I'm not that type of artist. I'm really thrilled by suggesting other ways of talking, other languages one could speak. Once an idea has been floated as convincingly as I think it needs to be, I don't want to go on flogging it forever! It doesn't mean I stop doing it, but I don't want to make it exclusively 'my thing'.Brian Eno
Being sure of yourself is the best advice I can think of. Having fun and not going too fast are important, but being self-assured will keep you composing for the longest period of time.
The minute I lose my sense of self-worth is the same minute I turn on a movie, take a break, eat, etc.Michael Hedges
Recording represents the future. The concert hall represents the past.Glenn Gould
I'm always grumbling when I produce, but it's the people who are dissatisfied who get things changed.Brian Eno
Artists who don't censor their own work: Picasso, Miles Davis, Prince. They're all people who just put it out, and have almost no critical self-censorship. They say, "Let the market decide; let the world decide." You might not be the best person to judge it.
That's a kind of humility, actually: it's a mixture of arrogance, which says, "I know I'm fucking good." But a humility, which says, "I'm not the person to decide."Brian Eno
Composition is a way of living out your philosophy and calling it art.Brian Eno
Maybe something has been achieved, but it was not I who deserves the credit for that.
You move on, and your work keeps being surprising as a result.
Maybe this approach works best with artists who are easily bored.Stewart Brand
I'm only 49 years old. I'm still in the middle of this whole thing.
I don't feel like it's finished at all. I'm still planning to write better songs.Paul McCartney
You can't compute or calculate the chemistry that arises when you put together a band.
No one knows until you start working together.Jimmy Page
If I can get out of the way, if I can be pure enough, if I can be selfless enough, and if I can be generous and loving and caring enough to abandon what I have and my own preconceived, silly notions of what I think I am - and become truly who in fact I am, which is really just another child of God - then the music can really use me.
And therein lies my fulfillment. That's when the music starts to happen.John McLaughlin
You have to have a measure of arrogance in dealing with anybody in the business. You have to feel that you're right, because ultimately you're not able to trust anyone else's judgment of your work.
If your judgment isn't clear, then their judgment will make no sense to you either.Brian Eno
I like to play with people who can play simple and are not threatened by other musicians thinking they can't play. So that eliminates 99 percent of all musicians.Neil Young
The worst that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly.J. D. Sallinger
I think musicians, as they grow older, usually become interested in doing something more lasting.
You've got to settle down and make everything count, and make sure that it's worthy of being heard again, not just a throwaway.Eric Clapton
You have to persist, and out of the sheer frustration of what you've been doing or haven't been doing, you just come out the other side.
Of course, when you come to the other side, you find that there's an even bigger hill to climb than the last one.Allan Holdsworth