Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back, and, instead of bleeding, he sings.

Robert Benchley

Rock-and-roll starts between the legs and goes through the heart, then to the head. As long as it does those three things, it’s a great rock song.

John Mellencamp

Country music is three chords and the truth.

Harlan Howard

Music is a beautiful opiate, if you don’t take it too seriously.

Henry Miller

I am all for singing. If I had had children, I should have hounded them into choirs and choral societies, and if they weren’t good enough for that, I would have sent them out, to sing in the streets.

Sylvia Townsend Warner

A song will outlive all sermons in the memory.

Henry Giles

Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart, and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears.

Frederick Douglass

Jews and blacks come from the same history. . . . We’ve just expressed our suffering differently as people. Blacks developed the blues. Jews complain; we just never thought of putting it to music.

Jon Stewart

The Qabalists believed that the universe was created from sound. Thus by reciting sacred sounds, changes or transformations of matter could take place. Healing could simply consist of reinvoking those sacred sounds in the body. . . . Perhaps this is what the shamans do when they chant.

Fred Alan Wolf

A religious life is a struggle and not a hymn.

Madame de Staël

I can’t stand to sing the same song the same way two nights in succession, let alone two years or ten years. If you can, then it ain’t music, it’s close-order drill or exercise or yodeling or something, not music.

Billie Holiday

I’d rather be dead than singing “Satisfaction” when I’m forty-five.

From a 1975 interview with Mick Jagger, who still performs the song at age sixty-seven

I wrote a song, but I can’t read music, so I don’t know what it is. Every once in a while I’ll be listening to the radio, and I say, “I think I might have written that.”

Steven Wright

Everything too stupid to be said is sung.


Aldous Huxley suggested that the psalm-singing of Christian and Buddhist monks, the chanting of medicine men and shamans, and the shouting and screaming of revivalists for hours on end bring about an increase in the carbon-dioxide level, triggering an altered state.

James Alcock

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.

Angela Monet

I’ve always held the song in high regard because songs have got me through so many sinks of dishes and so many humiliating courting events.

Leonard Cohen

There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something, we’d all love one another.

Frank Zappa

There is no music like that music, no drama like the drama of the saints rejoicing, the sinners moaning, the tambourines racing, and all those voices coming together and crying holy unto the Lord. . . . I have never seen anything to equal the fire and excitement that sometimes, without warning, fill a church, causing the church, as Leadbelly and so many others have testified, to “rock.”

James Baldwin

Because of her singing they all went away feeling moved, feeling comforted, feeling, perhaps, the slightest tremors of faith.

Ann Patchett

How come you can hear a chord, and then another chord, and then your heart breaks open?

Anne Lamott