Quotes About Artie Shaw

“This man’s got some history.”
– Wynton Marsalis

“Every time I change a toilet roll, I think of Artie Shaw.”
– Evelyn Keyes, ex-wife

 “Artie Shaw is rivaled only by Sinatra when it comes to the number of A-list Hollywood babes he got to see.”
– The Atlantic

“You know somethin’, man? Some day I’m gonna be walkin’ up the street one way and you’re gonna be comin’ down the other way, and we’re gonna pass each other and I’m gonna say ‘Hello, best white band in the world’ and you’re gonna say ‘Hello, best colored band in the world.”
– Chick Webb to Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw decided that there were only three questions he wanted to have answered, so he went about the task of finding the answers.
These were the three questions:
   1. Are we alone in the universe?
   2. Is there life after death?
   3. Were we created by a force, or did we evolve?
– Sig Shonholtz

Quotes From Artie Shaw

“My job is to play music, not politics, and my only obligation is to the people who pay to listen to me. I don’t attempt to ram hackneyed, insipid tunes down the public’s throat just because they’ve been artificially hypoed to the so-called ‘hit’ class. This policy of trying to maintain some vestige of musical integrity has, naturally, earned me enemies, people who think I’m a longhair, impressed with my own ability. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My faith in dance music — I refuse to call it swing — borders on the fanatic. I have the utmost respect for the many real musicians who are creating a new music as important as the classics, but I have no respect for musical clowns who lead an orchestra with a baton and a quip. However, more power to them if they can make it pay.”
– Artie Shaw, 1939 Saturday Evening Post

“I did all you can do with a clarinet. Any more would have been less.”
– Artie Shaw 

“You know what your problem is, Benny? You play the clarinet. I play music.”
– Artie Shaw 

“No matter how carefully and assiduously and how deeply you bury shit, the American public will find it and buy it in large quantity. It’s true, absolutely true.”
– Artie Shaw

“’Swing’ is an adjective or a verb, not a noun. All jazz musicians should swing. There is no such thing as a ‘swing band’ in music.”
– Artie Shaw

“If you don’t see the wonder in the most ordinary phenomenon, you’re not going to resonate very much.” 
– Artie Shaw

“That’s the clarinet I used to use… but it’s just a piece of wood, you know, with holes in it and they put these clumsy keys on it and you’re supposed to try to take that and manipulate it with throat muscles and chops… and try to make something happen that never happened before. And when you do, you never forget it. It beats sex, it beats anything…”
– Artie Shaw

“Somebody asked me once, ‘Do you think that swing will ever come back?’ And I said, ‘Do you think the 1938 Ford will ever come back?’”
– Artie Shaw

“The good old days are neither better nor worse than the ones we’re living through right now.”
– Artie Shaw

“There’s such a cynicism about the phrase ‘I laughed all the way to the bank.’ It’s as though money is what you’re doing, rather than playing music. If you’re playing a money game, why not get into banking?”
– Artie Shaw

“I wanted to resign from the planet, not just music. It stopped being fun with success. Money got in the way. Everybody got greedy, including me. Fear set in. I got miserable when I became a commodity.”
– Artie Shaw

“It [“Begin the Beguine”] became such a hit that it superseded anything that any band had ever had. It was the first time that a so-called swing band played something melodic and still gave it a beat.”
– Artie Shaw

“I think that band [Glenn Miller] was the beginning of the end. It was a mechanized version of what they called jazz music. I still can’t stand to listen to it.”
– Artie Shaw

“The bandleader is a musician trying to sell a mass commodity; and in order to do so successfully he must accommodate himself to mass standards. Unless he can do this comfortably, sooner or later he is sunk.”
– Artie Shaw

“(In 1939) I was catnip for all those mobs of overexcited girls”.
– Artie Shaw

“You run into a party and [a] woman comes up to you. She’s the most beautiful creature you ever saw – Ava Gardner – and says, “I like you and why don’t we get together?” What are you going to say, “No”? You’d have to be an idiot. She was an incredible creature.”
– Artie Shaw

“You have no idea of the women I didn’t marry.”
– Artie Shaw

“People ask what those women saw in me. Let’s face it, I wasn’t a bad-looking stud. But that’s not it. It’s the music; it’s standing up there under the lights. A lot of women just flip; looks have nothing to do with it. You call Mick Jagger good-looking?”
– Artie Shaw

“I can’t understand guys who just have to have your autograph. What do you do when you get home, take it out & look at it?”
– Artie Shaw

“I could never understand why people wanted to dance to my music, I made it good enough to listen to.”
– Artie Shaw

“I like the music. I love it & live it in fact. But for me the business part of music just plain stinks.”
– Artie Shaw

“An entertainer pleases others while an artist only has to please himself.”
– Artie Shaw

“Essentially, the popular musician in America must learn that his basic job is to entertain people, to make them forget their sorrows for a moment or two; in the same sense that any popular art form must aim at the same distraction value. Any such job as that is basically a young man’s business. It takes a young man’s energy to go traveling around the country, night after night in a different place, prancing and cavorting around in front of mobs of people all out to try to forget their problems for an evening. And for a young man it can be a good enough way of life, if he happens to like it.”
– Artie Shaw

“But war is not just hell, it’s sheer lunacy, and by the time we got back to the United States I was pretty much burnt out — so much so that I ended up spending months in a Naval Hospital. I was a wreck, and after a few weeks, I decided to try psychoanalysis as a way to get back into civilian life.”
– Artie Shaw

“We wound up playing for huge crowds of military personnel, at times as many as 20,000 Marine paratroopers lying on the side of a hill, sometimes covered by ponchos in sudden rainstorms. I had never realized what an immense impact our music had on American kids”
– Artie Shaw

“I’m not comfortable with categories, and I distrust most definitions. The word ‘definition’ is based on the word ‘finite,’ which would seem to indicate that once we’ve defined something, we don’t need to think about it anymore.”
– Artie Shaw

[speaking as to why he left music and fame behind in 1954] “It’s like having a gangrenous arm. The only thing you can do is amputate it. Obviously you’re gonna miss the arm, but if you don’t cut it off you’ll die.”
– Artie Shaw

“I pride myself as a semi-schizophrenic. I’m trying to understand the universe. There is no sense in the real world. I try to inject a bit of rationality in this wide-range of irrationality. So what am I doing? Criticizing the hell out of everything!”
– Artie Shaw

“Whatever you do in life, aim at perfection. It will not be understood or even appreciated by most people. However, in the long run, the closer you come to achieving your own inner standards of perfection, and they’ll be rising all the time, the better you’ll be. In your lifetime you will come reasonable close (two or three times) to perfection. I’ve come about twice where I can say that is as close to perfection as I can get. I consider myself an 80-percent loser, of which I am proud. So, have fun. Get into your life and do what you enjoy and be the best at what you can be. Maybe you won’t be successful and rich by the world’s standards, but you will have the best life capable of having. If you don’t do that, you’re cheating yourself.”
– Artie Shaw

“I don’t know a damn thing. I don’t know what it’s about. The longer I live, the more mysterious life is.”
– Artie Shaw

 

 

 

 

 

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