I fought the law and the law won

“Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?…  I’m goin’ down to shoot my old lady, I caught her messing ’round with another man… Hey Joe, I heard you shot your lady Hey-Joe-Stone-Free-Singolo-45-Giri-Jimi-hendrix-vinile-lp2down, shot her down to the ground…  Yes, I did, I shot her, you know I caught my old lady messing ’round town, and I gave her the gun, I shot her!…”

For at least a hundred years, probably longer, songs of many genres have been written about jealous men shooting their cheating women (or their lovers, or both) in arguably justifiable “crimes of passion.”  Perhaps most familiar is “Hey Joe,” whose origin is murky but seems to have been written in the 1950s, recorded by dozens of artists, and made most famous by Jimi Hendrix on his 1967 LP “Are You Experienced?”

It’s merely one example of how the old bromide “Crime doesn’t pay” certainly doesn’t hold true when it comes to popular music.

Hundreds of songs about crime — blues, hard rock, country, rap, folk, pop — have been cairnes-colt-gun-guitar02written that feature outlaws, thieves and serial killers and the broad array of awful things they do.  Some are based on true stories; some offer disturbing images of unspeakable acts; some are sad tales of accidental shootings resulting in prison terms.

Some are even written with an almost happy-go-lucky slant and turned into Top Ten confections that sell millions.  Take, for instance, “Indiana Wants Me,” a 1970 pop hit about a man who killed another man and went on the lam from the authorities.  He 1200x630bb-10regrets his act, if only because he knows it will mean separation from the woman he loves.

The Steve Miller Band wrote “the story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue,” two madcap felons “with nothing better to do” who got away with murder and robbery, and turned it into a hit called “Take the Money and Run” in 1976.

Even the peace-and-love Beatles came up with “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” a silly throwaway on 1969’s “Abbey Road” about an unhinged fellow who delights in killing people with hammer blows to their heads.

The late weird genius Warren Zevon became known as the “Excitable Boy” for the title 71uE8bn8X7L._SX355_track of his top-selling 1978 LP.  That song whimsically describes the boy’s escalation from rubbing pot roast on his chest to biting the theater usherette’s leg, to eventually raping and murdering a girl and then digging up her grave to build a cage with her bones.  Charming little ditty…

And those are just a few of the lighthearted ones.  It was challenging indeed to try to whittle down the voluminous list of “criminal songs” to about two dozen for this blog post and playlist.  But I’ve made my selections, and added a healthy gang of “honorable mentions” afterwards, and as usual, you’ll find a Spotify playlist at the end as a soundtrack to your reading pleasure.


51Cv700H1UL._SX355_“I Fought the Law,” Bobby Fuller Four, 1966, The Clash, 1977

The moral of the story here is crystal clear:  Break the law, you go to jail.  But talk about a creepy coincidence:  Texas native Bobby Fuller put together a foursome and recorded the regional favorite “I Fought the Law” in 1966, turned it into a Top Ten nationwide hit and, only six months later, was found dead in his mother’s garage from asphyxiation.  Suicide or homicide?  We’ll never know.  England’s punk heroes The Clash found success with their more aggressive cover of the song, which brought them a US audience in 1979.

Glenn_Frey_-_Smuggler's_Blues“Smuggler’s Blues,” Glenn Frey, 1984

As music videos took center stage in popularizing songs in the 1980s, former Eagle Glenn Frey (who passed away in 2016) wrote, produced, and starred in “Smuggler’s Blues,” an award-winning work that ended up as the inspiration for an entire episode of the “Miami Vice” TV show.  The lyrics tell the story of a drug deal gone awry, and the life-changing consequences for everyone involved:  “It’s a losing proposition, but one you can’t refuse, it’s there politics of contraband, it’s the smuggler’s blues…”

“Folsom Prison Blues,” Johnny Cash, 1969

R-5030921-1382615509-7462.jpegCountry musicians haven’t been the least bit shy about writing songs about outlaws, thievery and love gone horribly wrong.  From Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and George Jones’ “Still Doin’ Time” up through the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” and Kacey Musgraves’ “Five Finger Discount,” country music fans have always cherished the songs that canonized gun-toting folks who felt the need to settle scores “because he needed killin’.”  Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” which combined the metaphors of trains and prisons in one memorable track about a cold-blooded killer who “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,” reached #1 on the country charts in 1968.

“Robbery, Assault and Battery,” Genesis, 1976

robberyPhil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett had their hands full as they prepared material for the first Genesis album without their former front man Peter Gabriel.  One tune Collins wrote, “Robbery, Assault and Battery,” recalled his days as a young actor playing the Artful Dodger in a London stage production of “Oliver Twist.”  But the song took the crimes much further, from picking pockets to murder, still gleefully escaping the reach of the law, at least for now:  “I’ve got clean away, but I’ll be back someday…  Some day they’ll catch me, to a chain they’ll attach me, until that day, I’ll ride the old crime wave…”

“Midnight Rambler,” The Rolling Stones, 1969

530f7b6bbb80f_300_sqIn the ’60s, The Stones encouraged the perpetuation of their bad boy image with references to Satan (“Sympathy for the Devil”) and violent crime (“Gimme Shelter”).  One of their more notorious efforts is “Midnight Rambler,” which uses the example of the so-called “Boston Strangler” of 1966 to paint a harrowing picture of a madman on the loose, possibly in your neighborhood.  The studio version on 1969’s “Let It Bleed” is pretty great, but the live version on 1970’s “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” is superior.

002424“I Shot the Sheriff,” Bob Marley and The Wailers, 1973

This classic reggae tune by the late great Bob Marley has an unusual twist:  The narrator freely admits to killing the (corrupt) local sheriff but professes innocence regarding the death of his deputy.  Guitar hero Eric Clapton turned The Wailers’ obscure track into a #1 hit in 1974.  Decades later, when rapper Ice-T took a lot of heat for his incendiary song “Cop Killer,” he cited “I Shot the Sheriff” as proof of society’s hypocrisy that neither Marley nor Clapton ever faced the same outrage.

maxresdefault-18“Don’t Take Me Alive,” Steely Dan, 1976

From as early as 1972’s “Do It Again” (“In the morning you go gunnin’ for the man who stole your water…”) through 2000’s twisted “Cousin Dupree” (“What’s so strange about a down-home family romance?…”), Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were infamous for writing lyrics populated by felons, weirdos, pedophiles and outcasts.  In “Don’t Take Me Alive,” the narrator has killed his low-life father and has no intention of turning himself in (“Got a case of dynamite, I could hold out here all night…”)

“Miguel,” Gordon Lightfoot, 1971

hqdefault-9The legendary Canadian troubadour did wondrous things with this melodic piece of Spanish guitar folk music that tells the tragic story about Miguel, a Mexican who sneaks across the border to see his true love and avenge his mother’s broken heart at the hands of a deserting father.  Miguel also shoots the lawman who came to capture him, and Miguel ultimately dies as well.  In this tale, revenge is definitely not sweet.   

“Ride Like the Wind,” Christopher Cross, 1980

R-2724911-1349521796-5725.jpegCross burst on the scene in 1980 with this #2 hit, another murderer-on-the-lam vignette.  The first-person narrator laments that he was “born the son of a lawless man who always spoke my mind with a gun in my hand.”   He was accused, tried and sentenced to death… but he “never was the kind to do as I was told, gonna ride like the wind before I get old…”  The galloping musical arrangement underscored the sense of urgency in the man’s race to reach Mexico before being captured.

R-9763215-1485973867-7424.jpeg“Jailbreak,” Thin Lizzy, 1976

“Tonight there’s gonna be trouble, some of us won’t survive, see, the boys and me mean business, bustin’ out dead or alive…”  It’s unclear just what crimes they committed that landed them in jail, but the point here for songwriter Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy is that “the boys and me” are serious tough guys who don’t intend to sit rotting in jail for even one more day.  The hard rock song remains a staple on classic rock playlists many decades later.

ROCK_805-2“Nebraska,” Bruce Springsteen, 1982

After five albums full of songs about exuberance, lust, hopes and dreams, Springsteen threw his audience a curve ball with the album “Nebraska,” full of criminals and losers facing bleak, dead-end existences.  At the top of the list was the man in the title track, fashioned after the real serial killer Charles Starkweather, a Nebraskan who killed 11 people in the 1950s before being executed in 1959.  The album, sparsely recorded by Springsteen at home alone on a four-track cassette recorder, also included crime-related pieces like “Johnny 99,” “Highway Patrolman” and “State Trooper.”

“Bloodbath in Paradise,” Ozzy Osbourne, 1989

220px-No_rest_for_the_wickedLeave it to that unpredictable psycho Ozzy to write a lurid hard rock song blatantly depicting the infamous crimes of Charles Manson and his “family” 20 years after they took place in the Hollywood Hills.  Manson may be dead now, but thanks to tracks like this one, the gut-wrenching murders live on.  In case you’d forgotten, here’s a snippet to turn your stomach:  “There’s blood on the walls when Charlie and the family make house calls, if you’re alone, then watch what you do, ’cause Charlie and the family might get you, can you hear them in the darkness, helter skelter, spiral madness, bloodbath in paradise…”

“Murder By Numbers,” The Police, 1983

maxresdefault-19The most chilling thing about this compelling song (found as a bonus track on The Police’s final LP “Synchronicity”) is how it offers a virtual manifesto for how easy it is to turn murder into an art form “if you’ve made a stone of your heart and your hands are willing.”  The lyrics explain that there’s no need for bloodshed if you merely slip a tablet into someone’s coffee.  It goes on to suggest, “If you have a taste for this experience… then you must try a twosome or a threesome… it’s a habit-forming need for more and more…”  Hmmm.  Makes me wonder whether some of these shooters today grew up listening to this track over and over…


Songs about mentally ill loners who kill innocent people are almost too numerous to mention.  Sad to say, these curious, dangerous types have always made fascinating subjects for songs, films and books.  In the popular music arena of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, I have singled out these riveting tracks:    

psycho_killer_poster_new“Psycho Killer,” Talking Heads, 1976

When David Byrne wrote this quirky song back in 1974 “because the villains were always the more interesting characters,” he envisioned Alice Cooper doing a Randy Newman-type ballad about a murderer.  By the time it was released on the Talking Heads’ debut LP in 1977, many erroneously assumed it referred to the so-called “Son of Sam” killings in New York City that year.  The translated lyrics (partly in French) tell the story pretty clearly:  “What I did that evening, what she said that evening, fulfilling my hope, headlong I go toward glory…”

maxresdefault-20“Ticking,” Elton John, 1974

Elton’s lyricist Bernie Taupin intended for his fictional antihero to earn our pity as a misunderstood, troubled kid whose “brain just snapped” when he “went berserk in Queens” and murdered 14 people.  The dramatic, seven-minute track from the “Caribou” LP offers taut-nerve lyrics in which the killer is described as “an extremely quiet child” who wrestled with demons that no one paid attention to.  But they should’ve seen it coming, he believes:  “Hear it, hear it, ticking, ticking…”

1*5r1NwBOzlYYnqUNivLaRWg“Family Snapshot,” Peter Gabriel, 1980

This harrowing song from Gabriel’s third solo album (unofficially known as the “Melt” LP) takes the listener along on a ride through the warped mind of a lone assassin eager to pick off an unnamed politician as his campaign caravan travels by on a city street.  We learn his plan (“If things work out right, they won’t see me or the gun”), his irrational motive and need for fame (“There he is, the man of the hour, standing in the limousine, I don’t really hate you, I don’t care what you do, we were made for each other”), and even what likely caused his unraveling (“Come back Mum and Dad, you’re growing apart, you know that I’m growing up sad, I need some attention…”).

1bc845ee44fd92345c2b3f4cf3810521.1000x1000x1“Killer’s Eyes,” The Kinks, 1981

An attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981 was the impetus for Ray Davies’ song “Killer’s Eyes,” included on The Kinks’ “Give the People What They Want” LP that year.  Davies said he was among those who continually searched for answers as to why someone seeks to kill anyone, let alone a man of God who preaches world peace.  The song is written largely from the point of view of the assassin’s brokenhearted mother:  “We all go through hell in some kind of way, can you tell me what it’s like to be there every day, when you were young you had a vision, why’d you go and do a thing like that?…”

419JGQY6S2L“Sniper,” Harry Chapin, 1972

Chapin wrote long story-songs, and this interminable 10-minute treatise is a test of anyone’s endurance.  Although it doesn’t mention Charles Whitman by name, it’s clearly about the disturbed man who climbed a tower at the University of Texas in 1966 and murdered 16 innocents.  It’s not a great song, not by a long stretch, but it offers some constructive insights into the dysfunctional thinking of those who commit such acts:  “I am a lover who’s never been kissed… Listen you people, I’ve got a question, you won’t pay attention but I’ll ask anyhow, I found a way that will get me an answer, been waiting to ask you ’til now, right now!  Am I?…  You’ve given me my answer, can’t you see?  I was!  I am!  And now I will be!!…”


Honorable mention:

Down By the River,” Neil Young, 1969;  “Too Much Blood,” The Rolling Stones, 1983;  “Been Caught Stealing,” Jane’s Addiction, 1990;  “Crime of the Century,” Supertramp, 1974;  “Smooth Criminal,” Michael Jackson, 1987;  “Stagger Lee,” Lloyd Price, 1959;  “Let Him Dangle,” Elvis Costello, 1989;  “Machine Gun Kelly,” James Taylor, 1971;  “Bankrobber,” The Clash, 1980;  “Janie’s Got a Gun,” Aerosmith, 1989;  “Riders on the Storm,” The Doors, 1971;  “Thieves in the Temple,” Prince, 1990;  “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde,” Georgie Fame, 1967;  “Renegade,” Styx, 1978;  “The Killing of Georgie (Parts I & II),” Rod Stewart, 1976;  “Band on the Run,” Paul McCartney and Wings, 1973








And we laughed until we cried

Can rock music be funny?

h_00427772_lSure it can, in a number of different ways.  We might begin with a couple of jokes about rock bands:

Q:  What do you call a rock musician who doesn’t have a girlfriend?  A:  Homeless.

Or:  “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a rock guitarist.”  “You can’t do both, son.”

Or maybe:  Q:  Why did Bono fall off the stage at a U2 concert?  A:  He was standing too close to The Edge.  (Cue the rim shot)


But really, the primary way rock music can be funny is in the lyrics.  The rock and pop music pantheon has many dozens of artists from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s who knew how to write words designed to make us laugh, whether it’s just one or two amusing lines or entire songs.  My readers will no doubt be able to come up with many other examples, but the ones I’ve cited below are the songwriters who have impressed me with their ability to write funny stuff.  (And there’s a Spotify playlist at the end that includes some of their best.)

1*YiXJ_jcj1SllwNhxYccVSAJimmy Buffett has released nearly three dozen albums over four-plus decades, each containing at least one whimsical track.  A quick look at a partial list of song titles alone should have you chuckling:  “The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Off to See the Lizard,” “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw,” “It’s Midnight and I’m Not Famous Yet,” “We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About,” “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season.”  He’s even got a song called “Door Number Three” that tells the tongue-in-cheek story of a contestant on the game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Frank Zappa and his erstwhile band, The Mothers of Invention, made many dozens of albums featuring a unique blend of rock, jazz, classical and avant-garde, with titles like “Weasels Ripped My Flesh,” “We’re Only In It for the Money,” “Sheik Yerbouti” and “Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar.”  In his voluminous catalog are scores of outrageously funny, adult-rated tracks like “Dinah-Moe Humm,” “Stick It Out” and “Penguin in Bondage,” as well as more radio-friendly tunes like “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” and “Valley Girl.”

mqdefaultRandy Newman has used humor in his songs ever since his 1968 debut LP, which includes “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” the song (later made into a #1 hit by Three Dog Night) about the awkward boy at a party who wished he’d listened to his mother’s advice.  Ten years later, he had his own hit, “Short People,” which used dry humor to skewer those who discriminate against people who are different than they are.

Arlo Guthrie‘s repertoire includes several funny songs like “Comin’ Into Los Angeles” (a humorous look at smuggling weed), and the legendary “Alice’s Restaurant,” in which he takes 18 minutes to tell a mostly true story about protesting the Vietnam war that starts out with Guthrie being arrested for, of all things, littering.

The great Tom Waits has written numerous tracks that feature wry lyrics, none more than on his 1976 LP “Small Change,” with songs like “Step Right Up,” “Pasties and a G-String” and “The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me).”  I love this line from “Better Off Without a Wife”:  “She’s been married so many times, she’s got rice marks all over her face…”

0d8b472ac30ec904aa781f9e690cc19c--simon-garfunkel-paul-simonAlthough known more for lyrics of poignancy and melancholy, Paul Simon has written some funny lyrics as well.  From 1970’s “Cecilia”:  “I got up to wash my face, when I come back to bed, someone’s taken my place…”  From 1973’s “Kodachrome”:  “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all…”  From 1986’s “You Can Call Me Al”:  “Why am I soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard?…”

Country music has its share of humorous lyrics, and two of the biggest hits by country rockers The Charlie Daniels Band — 1973’s “Uneasy Rider” and 1978’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” — both used humor to tell tales of a long-haired hippie avoiding a beating in a redneck bar, and an absurd fiddle-playing contest between Satan and a young Southern boy.

3fcd8210-2bd2-4edd-ad5a-2f8730942715Joe Walsh employed self-deprecating humor to satirize his rock star lifestyle in the 1978 hit “Life’s Been Good”:  “My Maserati does 185, I lost my license, now I don’t drive… I got me an office, gold records on the wall, just leave a message, maybe I’ll call…” 

Aerosmith‘s 1975 tune “Big Ten-Inch Record” used a sexual double entendre to comic effect:  “She said, ‘Now, stop that jivin’, and whip out your big ten-inch….record of a band that plays the blues…'” 

J Geils Band‘s 1981 song “Centerfold” took an amusing look at a boy who is crushed when the girl he idolizes at school turns up in a nudie magazine pictorial: “My blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold, my angel’s in a centerfold, my angel’s in a centerfold…”

The 1950s song “Twisted,” recorded in 1973 by Joni Mitchell, took a droll approach to psychoanalysis:  “My analyst told me that I was right out of my head, but I said dear doctor, I think that it’s you instead… To prove it, I’ll have the last laugh on you, because instead of one head, I got two, and you know two heads are better than one…”

Johnny Cash had his biggest pop hit with the whimsical “A Boy Named Sue” in 1969, and Commander Cody enjoyed his only foray on to the pop charts in 1972 with his amusing country-pickin’ ode to fast cars, “Hot Rod Lincoln.”

Meat Loaf‘s “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” is a humorous mini rock opera about a couple going through the motions of whether or not to have sex:  “Will you love me forever?…What’s it gonna be, boy?  Yes or no?…Let me sleep on it…” 

8cd5e75d72045a2c079dabfac81b49f2Even rock gods like The Beatles weren’t above knocking off a track that amounted to comedy.  On the flip side of the “Let It Be” single, released as the band was breaking up in 1970, there was a strangely funny piece called “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number),” which saw the Fab Four horsing around in a variety of voices and styles that put an emphatically comic exclamation point on their otherwise sterling career.


There was a strange British outfit called the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band that put out some seriously humorous parodies — check out “The Intro and the Outro” for a quickie introduction.

The “rockumentary” film by Rob Reiner known as “This is Spinal Tap” certainly qualifies as a presentation of very funny rock music.

There’s a whole category of (purportedly) funny music known as “novelty songs,” which are usually lame little ditties, often written expressly as a one-off to capitalize on some pop culture trend or figure.  The once-popular craze known as “streaking” — running naked through a public place — sparked country singer Ray Stevens’ big #1 hit “The Streak” in 1974, and the huge success of citizens band (CB) radios in the mid-’70s made 500x500C.W. McCall’s 1976 disgrace “Convoy” a #1 hit.  That same year, Rick Dees rode the tails of the disco craze with the excruciatingly idiotic “Disco Duck.”

Early one-hit wonders like The Rivingtons and Bobby “Boris” Pickett had cultural curiosities in 1962 with their funny camp classics, “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and “Monster Mash,” respectively.  Brian Hyland, who also had a few typical early ’60s hits like “Sealed With a Kiss,” went to #1 with the amusing 1960 bossa nova novelty track, “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini.”

The popularity of the “Peanuts” comic strip in the ’60s gave a group called The Royal Guardsmen all the impetus they needed to reach #2 on the charts in 1966 with “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron,” a slight confection complete with sound effects of WWII airplane dogfights.

R-4647087-1452452539-4366.jpegSinger songwriter Harry Nilsson had a big hit in 1972 with “Coconut,” a silly tune about how a doctor prescribes a drink of coconut and lime to relieve a bellyache.  Rock and roll icon Chuck Berry even found his way to #1 on the charts a few months later with “My Ding-a-Ling,” a throwaway ode to his penis.

Comedy acts have had occasional success with musical bits that became popular enough to reach the Top 40.   The pot-smoking comic duo Cheech & Chong made fun of cheesy R&B songs — first came “Basketball Jones,” a sendoff of the 1973 single “Love Jones,” and later on in the Seventies, “Bloat On,” a parody of the Floater’s #2 hit “Float On.”  “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” was Allan Sherman’s funny 1963 song about the 6-6-KING-TUT-Facebook-300x225trials and tribulations of summer camp:  “All the counselors hate the waiters, and the lake has alligators, you remember Jeffrey Hardy, they’re about to organize a searching party…”  Seventies comic sensation Steve Martin made the hit parade in 1978 with his hilarious single, “King Tut,” a spoof of the Egyptian boy-king:  “Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia, King Tut…”


In a category pretty much by himself is “Weird Al” Yankovic, who writes pointed lyrical parodies of popular tunes.  His most famous was the #16 hit “Eat It,” his takeoff on WeirdAl-500x400Michael Jackson’s #1 smash “Beat It,” where he lambastes a kid’s fussy eating habits.  He had plenty more along these lines, poking fun at songs by Madonna (“Like a Surgeon”), The Knack (“My Bologna”), Queen (“Another One Rides the Bus”), Joan Jett (“I Love Rocky Road”), Huey Lewis (“I Want a New Duck”), James Brown (“Livin’ With a Hernia”) and Cyndi Lauper (“Girls Just Want to Have Lunch”), to name just a few from his first few albums in the mid-’80s.


Lastly, let’s not forget that some rock musicians have a pretty good sense of humor, saying some hilarious things in interviews with the press over the years.

As Keith Richards was facing drug-related charges in a Canadian courtroom, he said, “Let me be clear about this:  I don’t have a drug problem, I have a police problem.”

Frank Zappa, always quick with a caustic zinger, once described rock journalism aspeople who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk in order to provide articles for people who can’t read.”

54ae0542efaaf619106e71d9be745f1d--alice-cooper-classic-rockGuitarist Angus Young of the heavy metal band AC/DC poked fun at the band’s critics this way:  “I’m sick to death of people saying we’ve made 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve made 12 albums that sound exactly the same.”

Alice Cooper had a big hit in the fall of 1972 called “Elected,” and when he was asked who he supported in the upcoming presidential election, he said, “If you’re listening to a rock star to get your information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are.”

George Harrison, commenting on the “new” single the remaining Beatles produced in 1995 from an old John Lennon cassette:  “I think John would have liked ‘Free As A Bird.’  In fact, I hope somebody takes all my crap demos when I’m dead and makes them into hit songs too.”

Joe Walsh, when asked if he still like playing “Rocky Mountain Way” at every concert, replied, “If I knew I had to play that song the rest of my life, I probably would’ve written something better.”

Jimi Hendrix once noted how other guitarists were attempting to mimic his style of playing, saying, “I’ve been imitated so well, I’ve heard people copy my mistakes.”

898578_1323479502140_fullIn defending his many years of excessive bad-boy behavior, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler said, “We believed anything that was worth doing was worth overdoing.”

Paul McCartney, reflecting on the craft of songwriting, said, “There’s nothing like the thrilling moment of completing a song that didn’t exist before.  I won’t compare it to sex, but it sure lasts longer.”

The Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox, commenting on creeping commercialism among rock stars, said, “There are two kinds of artists left — those who endorse Pepsi and those who simply won’t.”

images-16Guitar great Jeff Beck, saying he was overwhelmed upon first seeing Jimi Hendrix perform, said, “After I saw Jimi play, I just went home and wondered what the hell I was going to do with my life.”

When reporters asked Elvis Presley some technical questions about music, he responded, “I don’t know anything about music, but in my line of work, you don’t have to.”


Musicians of other genres could be funny, too:  

Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery:  “I never practice my guitar, but from time to time, I open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat.”

dukeellingtonBig-band bandleader Duke Ellington:  “I never had much interest in the piano until I realized that every time I played, a girl would appear on the piano bench to my left and another to my right.”

Classical composer Igor Stravinsky:  “Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.”