Today’s Discoveries

No doubt you’ve noticed that bloggers like to post the occasional quotations – given Internet access there is no shortage of pithy sayings that we can share with you. I will admit that, to some degree, the act of trolling for quotes is sometimes a combination of laziness and procrastination, but there is also a delight in finding an admirable turn of phrase, encountering a new metaphor, or discovering that a thought was put forth by someone you would not have imagined. Also fun, of course, is the juxtaposition of two or more quotes, be they compatible or antithetical. But what I like best about quotations and the power of the Internet is that I come across people heretofore unknown to me, and within a few keystrokes I can find out who they are or were, what they do or have done, and serendipitously broaden my horizons. Take these quotes for example:

“He who sings, scares away his woes” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Music is the medicine of the mind” – John A. Logan

Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass? – Michael Torke

I had jotted down these quotes some time ago. I knew who Cervantes was (the Spanish author), but until I did a little research I did not know that the quotation in question comes from chapter 22 of Don Quixote of la Mancha (translated by John Ormsby). I also found that the wording is sometimes given as “He who sings frightens away his ills.”

As for the other two men quoted, I had no idea at all who they were. Turns out that Logan was a politician who lived in the 1800s. He was a congressman, a brigadier general during the Civil War, later a senator, and Memorial Day was presumably his idea. (To read the congressional bio blurb go here.) Who would expect a switch-hitting politician (first a Democrat, later a Republican) and a lawyer to boot, to say that about music?

The third quote turns out to be from a music man, a composer. BrainyEnclopedia says he writes “accessible music influenced by jazz and minimalism” and that he is “sometimes described as a post-minimalist.” Not knowing what that means, I went to his website to listen to some clips. I don’t consider myself qualified to review or critique symphonic music, but I can tell you that it was pleasing to my ears. A cursory look at the critical acclaim he has received from those in the know supports my appreciation, but part of my enjoyment might also be due to the sound being a welcome change of pace from the music that I have been listening lately – not better or worse, just different. The only symphonic music to reach my ears in recent months is Luther Henderson’s Classic Ellington, recorded in England with Sir Simon Rattle conducting The City of Birmingham Symphony. The orchestrations are wonderful, but the experience of listening to orchestrations of songs with which I am very familiar is vastly different than listening to an original work for the first time, the latter allowing for a mental release that is not possible when the mind is filled with specific expectations. I never thought about this before today, and therein lies yet another benefit of cruising the Internet and letting one’s mind wander a bit. It seems that generating new ideas first requires letting go.

ps – for those of you who know there to be a psychotherapist in my family, let me go on record saying that while music may soothe today, it is no match for the long-term benefits of analysis.

Compatible Quotes: Call To Action

Charles de Gaulle, War Memoirs, 1960:

“Deliberation is a function of the many; action is the function of one.”

Attributed to Will Rogers:

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

And there is always:

“Don’t just sit there, do something.”

This last one is such a common admonition that I can’t find out who coined it. Any thoughts?

You Better Believe It

Given the level of deception and deceit to which we are exposed on a daily basis, whether by virtue of deliberate act or ignorance, these words from Buddha offer one good and true measure:

“Do not believe in what you have heard;
do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations;
do not believe anything because it is rumored and spoken of by many;
do not believe merely because the written statements of some old sage are produced;
do not believe in conjectures;
do not believe in that as a truth to which you have become attached by habit;
do not believe merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

After observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

Gautama Buddha — (Spoken 2,600 years ago)

I am not a Buddhist (not yet, anyway), and am not even particularly well-read in that field. I happened upon these words via guitarist Tony DeCaprio’s web site in the Deuterium section. His commentaries also explore a spiritual approach to life and jazz.

I’ve Got Mail: A Compatible Quote

Mike Davis writes from across the pond in Shropshire, England:

I was interested in the Gerry Mulligan advice. . .sound common sense. Here’s something in similar vein that Hampton Hawes once had to say (as passed on to me by Carol Kaye a few years ago) Quote: I don’t know about these young people today. They all want to analyze me, and I tell ‘em, ‘Don’t do it. . .don’t analyze; just listen, it doesn’t matter if I put a Rudebaker 9th with a Cabbage 13th. . .what really matters is that you listen; then if you like what you hear, enjoy the music. . .

Mike is the co-author (with Roger Hunter) of “Hampton Hawes: Bio-discography.”


This quote is floating all over the net and in lots of mail order catalogues without attribution — I rather like it:

I want to be an outrageous old woman who never gets called an old lady. I want to get leaner & meaner, sharp edged & earth colored, till I fade away from pure joy.

Granted, I have a ways to go…or at least I hope so.


“Man, you know, these young guys, they know all the modes, they know all the chords, they can play high and low and fast, and they can do amazing things, but the one thing they don’t know is how to leave the bone alone.” — attributed to Gerry Mulligan as quoted by Herb Alpert in a New Yorker piece by Nick Paumgarten (April 10, 2006, page 33).


I came across the following in an old issue (Fall 2005) of the Author’s Guild Bulletin:

The late E.B. White wrote to Linda H. Davis, young author of a biography about White’s wife, Katherine White: “Advice from this elderly practioner is to forget publishers and just roll a sheet of copy paper into your machine and get lost in the project. Write about it by day, and dream about it by night.”

Practical advice is a good thing. Proverbial wisdom, on the other hand, is more difficult to apply:

If you want your dreams to come true, don’t sleep. – Yiddish proverb

If you want your eggs hatched, sit on them yourself. – Haitian proverb


Terry Teachout posted a great quote today that is particularly relevant to recent postings (here and here) and to Just Muttering‘s addendum here.

Not only do I love the quote, but because of it my musical world has expanded to include George Enescu, a Roumanian composer and violinist with whom I was not familiar, at least not by name. These chance discoveries are what I love about blogs! Thanks TT.

Compatible Quotes

“It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars” — Garrison Keillor

“A man who looks for security, even in his mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.” — Henry Miller

“Live to the point of tears.” — Albert Camus