All work and no play makes for alarmingly predictable lyrics.David Lee Roth
Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can't be taught.Paul Desmond
Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing. Taste is the enemy of creativity.Pablo Picasso
I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.Duke Ellington
It is ridiculously easy to become bitter in this trade, so hard not to resent in at least some small capacity the success of others.
The real problem is that envy and bitterness are such poor materials for a songwriter to work with.
A person can write one, maybe two songs on the subject and even if the pieces are well crafted, probably no one will want to hear them.
I capsulized insults and aimed them at specific individuals in some of my early music and now regret those acts more than any others in my creative life.Jimmy Webb
Your responsibility is to tell the truth, not the facts, necessarily. It could be the facts, but it's basically the truth. That means being a truthful person.
You can't tell the truth in your work if you don't tell the truth in your life. So I encourage you to be scrupulous in your truth ethic.
Even when no one's looking - especially when no one's looking. Just for yourself.Rosanne Cash
A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the word you first thought of.Burt Bacharach
You've got a song you're singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut. And you've got to make them think that you're one of them sitting out there with them too. They've got to be able to relate to what you're doing.Johnny Cash
Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily.David Byrne
That's why I hate to take credit for the songs I've written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it's been done and I'm just a courier bringing it out into the world.Michael Jackson
It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them. The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page.Joan Baez
In writing songs I've learned as much from Cezanne as I have from Woody Guthrie.Bob Dylan
I'm as mystified now as when I started. I'm no closer to understanding the difference between the ingredients of a really great song and a mediocre one.David Gray
Music is about saying what everyone else is thinking, but no one has said yet.Jared Kessler
The only motivation I need to write a musical is a phone call from the producer.Cole Porter
I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to.Elvis Presley
Paint pictures with your words. And never (never!) put down the brush.Dixon DeVore
The easiest way to get laid by a girl, or get rid of her, is to write a song about her.David Crosby
Without freedom of expression, good taste means nothing.Neil Young
Just because it happened to you, doesn't mean it's interesting.Dennis Hopper
I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good.
I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.
I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.
And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.Woody Guthrie
Lyrics run out after the melody like children after an ice cream truck.Danielle Egnew
Good songs write themselves. We're lucky enough to take the credit.Danielle Egnew
If you ain't killin' 'em, maybe your point ain't sharp enough.Kevin Welch
I saw Bob Dylan getting criticized in Australia by this guy who was saying, "Your new songs aren't as relevant as your old songs."
And Dylan just said, "Well, I'm out here writing songs - what are you doing?"Bob Dylan
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
The poem the reader reads may be better than that which the writer wrote.
Try to make things that can become better than what you thought you were doing.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
We talk to our kids in one way, to our friends at work in another, to our lovers in yet another, to the lady in the corner shop in another.
When we make these shifts we are exercising our understanding of the worlds from which they are listening to us, and we are also projecting onwards our own view of the world in which we would like this conversation to be taking place.
When you think about it, this is an enormous and complex talent that humans spend their lives exercising, rehearsing, refining.Brian Eno
People are hearing a lot more context than music, so perhaps I accept that I am now primarily a context maker.
My art is not just what comes out of the end of my trumpet or appears on a record, but a larger experience which is intimately connected to who I appear to be, to my life and charisma.
The 'music', the sonic bit, could end up being quite a small part of the whole experience.
Developing the context- the package, the delivery system, the buzz, the spin, the story - might itself become the art. Like perfume...Brian Eno
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
Singers are like Arabs. They abhor a vacuum. And a vacuum is defined as "when I'm not singing".Brian Eno
What matters in modern music is not the part you can write down, the words and the tune, but the rest - the texture, the atmosphere, the references and associations.Brian Eno
I like to write words that are on the border between meaning and nonsense, so you're not quite sure whether they mean anything or not.Brian Eno
When people censor themselves they're just as likely to get rid of the good bits as the bad bits.Brian Eno
What you really want to be doing is to be writing lyrics that are outside of your own understanding.
They feel like this is what you want to be singing. But you don't know why.Brian Eno
Somebody in an interview said recently, "What do the words mean?" And I said, "What do the chords mean?"Brian Eno
But the bottleneck (in most records, probably) is lyric writing. Why? Because the lyricist assumes the really specific job of focusing the music, of pointing it somewhere.
"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
Write as if you've discovered a very dusty inscribed stone somewhere, and you're trying to scrape off all the muck to find out what's underneath it, and you keep coming up with one word here, another one there, and you're trying to imagine what might be in between those words.
The only temptation to resist is the temptation to fall into a simple meaning.Brian Eno
The most important thing in a piece of music is to seduce people to the point where they start searching.
If the music doesn't do that, it doesn't do anything. If it just presents itself and just sits there, if it either declares itself too clearly or is too obscure to even appear to be saying anything, then it seems to me to have failed.
Sitting on that line is very interesting.Brian Eno
The important thing about lyrics is not exactly what they say, but that they lead you to believe they are saying something.
All the best lyrics I can think of, if you question me about them, I don't know what they're saying, but somehow they're very evocative.
It leaves a space in which the listener can project his or her own meaning into.Brian Eno
Removal of context is an important point in the magic of music.
Deliberately dismantle or shift contexts around so that something comes from an area where you didn't expect it, or something appears and it has a certain mysteriousness to it. There are ingredients mixed together that you have never heard together before, and that produces a strangeness.Brian Eno
When you make music you are acting as a philosopher. You can either do that consciously or you can do it unconsciously, but you're doing it.John Cage
Repetition doesn't really exist.
As far as your mind is concerned, nothing happens the same twice, even if in every technical sense, the thing is identical. Your perception is constantly shifting. It doesn't stay in one place.Brian Eno
The greater you understand the structure of something, the more amazed you'll be at the tiniest movement within it. In that sense the possibilities are limitless.Brian Eno
What do Fellini's films have to do with naturalism? He works with the inaccuracies of memory. It's the opposite direction from naturalism: elevating things to mythical, archetypal status. Make them more dreamlike. That's a feeling I like a lot.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
As soon as you externalize an idea you see facets of it that weren't clear when it was just floating around in your head.Brian Eno
I really begin by allowing myself to make a mess, and then seeing if I can get out of it.
If your first move is brilliant, you're in trouble. You don't really know how to follow it; you're frightened of ruining it.
So to make a mess is a good beginning - and I'm quite good at doing that.Brian Eno
I want to make things that put me in the position of innocence, that recreate the feeling of innocence in you.Brian Eno
As soon as I'd made up the shape of the song, I made a plan of it on paper, sketching out all the spaces where I wanted words, and began running through it, just singing whatever came into my head. And every time I hit on a phrase I liked, I'd write it down in its particular place in the framework.
Gradually I'd arrive at a kind of 'found' document made up of half-obscured fragments - and all I then had to do was fill in the blanks by reconstructing what I thought each lyric was about. Automatic writing, in fact.Brian Eno
All my favourite songs had lyrics which I didn't quite understand.
What I liked about that was that it seemed to be saying something, but it was unspecific. It gave a definite feeling to the song without being a particular statement.Brian Eno
I remember being with my wife's family, who are are quite shy. We started playing Charades, and within 10 minutes people are singing the theme from such-and-such with all the acting that goes with it.
Because they're now in a frame which says, "You're not yourself, you're not responsible." I thought, that's not a bad philosophy of life.Brian Eno
One of the things I do is cut the language up, so there are breaks in the middle of sentences and so on.
A few words will come out -- space -- another word -- another 6 words -- space -- another 2 words.
So the language really keeps falling apart.Brian Eno
People who are not native English speakers often speak English in a much more interesting way than people who are, because they make the words strange again.
If you are used to listening to English spoken by other English people it all just slips by. But suddenly, when you hear a foreigner speaking your own language, they alter the stress on things, they change the relationship, the balance between words. Suddenly they bring the language to life again. And they keep creating new meanings.Brian Eno
Language is still where it was in about the 14th century.
I like songs, and I like language, and I like the use of language. But I want it to be done in some original way.
Whoever does the words has a very hard job. That's the sharp edge of the music. Whatever else the music is doing, if there are words there, you know that is going to be the focal point of the music for so many listeners. And you can really fuck it up with words. If they're not good, you can totally wreck the whole thing.Brian Eno
A friend of mine says that modern music is a form of space travel, because either you're going out into space with the music, into weird new sounds and weird new impossible landscapes. Modern composers...create psychoacoustic spaces that actually don't exist in nature.
So that's one kind of space travel, going outwards. But the other kind, of course, is inner space travel, travelling into the strange new psychological spaces in our souls.Brian Eno
I want to believe that what I make is a good start, a strong place to begin. I then hope that at least it will be better in the user's (listener's) mind than it is in mine.
I want to plant seeds that will grow when they leave me.
If I thought the music was only going to remain as I left it, then why would I want to release it? You release things so that they will grow, and have interesting other lives without you. Just like kids.Brian Eno
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
Two different ways of making things: the hard way and the easy way.
The hard way is the way of the individual artist who establishes his own terrain, as it were. The easy way is the way of grace and the way of tradition, where you don't even consider the possibility that you are there to make major innovations - you're there to make 200 parts today.
One of the things I like about gospel music is that it has that same kind of humility, that the people who are singing it are not puckered-brow artists. There's the same freshness and thrill that you see in all kinds of folk arts. People doing something that is shaped by a whole lot of quite unconscious factors, like the limitations of their own vocal range.Brian Eno
Some sound comes so heavily laden with intention that you can't hear it for the intentions.
This is the great problem of lyrics... they always impose something that is so unmysterious.Brian Eno