After reading, listening to, and watching everything I can about Jones this week, it feels a bit daft to try and write something new and insightful. So instead, I wanted to share what I’d pulled from all of those places – the thoughts and words that really resonated with me, and hopefully will mean something to you (as well as a couple of juicy stories too, of course).
On what drives great creatives:
“It’s an attitude they have – I want to know how everything works. Curiosity. Sinatra had it too.”
The advice Jones snr. gave Quincy on committing:
“Once a task is just begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.”
On facing adversity:
“Well, listen, anger doesn’t get anything done, so you have to find out: How do you make it work? That’s why I was always maniacal about transforming every problem into a puzzle which I can solve. I can solve a puzzle—a problem just stresses me out.”
On Michael Jackson’s insane attention to detail:
“He had a perspective on details that was unmatched. His idols are Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, James Brown, all of that. And he paid attention, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s the only way you can be great, you know, is pay attention to the best guys who ever did it.”
Watching Prince make a fool of himself in front of James Brown and Michael Jackson:
“Prince told Michael he’d kill him if he showed it to anybody,” Jones explains, but one way or another, time-coded raw footage of what took place that night eventually surfaced. First Brown invites Jackson to the stage. Jackson sings a few phrases, spins, moonwalks, then embraces Brown and can be seen whispering to him. Brown then calls for Prince. After a delay, Prince gets onstage, takes a guitar, jams a little, then strips off his shirt. He does some mic-stand tomfoolery, dances a little more, then nearly tumbles into the audience trying to pull down an oversize streetlamp prop. It was a superstar face-off that has often been seen as a triumph for Michael Jackson, and a rare humiliation for Prince.”
On a brilliant introduction to Picasso:
“We had lunch with him. He was a character, man. He was fucked-up with absinthe all the time. We both ordered sole meunière, which is one of my favourite dishes of all time from Paris, and after he’d finish he’d take the bones and push it out in the sun and let the sun parch the bones, and he’d take out these three colors, orange and blue and red, and when the waiter would say, ‘L’addition, s’il vous plaît,’ Picasso would push that. And you look all across the walls, his bones with his writing on them. That’s how he paid his bills. He was a bad motherfucker, man.”
On capturing the attention of an audience:
“If one producer does a record, the sequencing is the most important thing, keep it moving all the way through. In 15 seconds, if it doesn’t engage, the ear goes to sleep. They want ear candy. It’s amazing what engages the ear in a great song. Not too many of them going on today – a lot of champagne-selling noises. But I love Kendrick Lamar, the Weekend, Drake.”
On his preferred way of working:
“All his life, Jones has relished that moment around midnight when something new begins. “The muses come out at midnight,” he says. “No e-mails, no faxes, no calls.” And when the rest of the city is fully asleep, that’s when Quincy Jones, three months short of his 85th birthday, will really get to work.”
On advice Jones was given for soaking up new cultures:
“When he was getting ready to take his first trip to Europe with Hampton, in 1953, the veteran sax player Ben Webster sat him down. “Eat the food, listen to the music and learn 30 to 40 words in every language,” Webster said. Jones listened: “It’s like a code to enter another culture. If you open up your mind, it’s like music.”
On Jones’ enduring impact on culture:
“Quincy Jones was right up there with George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong as one of the cornerstones of American music,” says Gerald Early, an English and African-American studies scholar at Washington University in St. Louis. “He’s influenced American culture and had a presence that few other musicians have had.”
On his eternal sense of groove:
“He never loses the melody and he has the pulse of jazz, which is the pulse of life, in everything he does.”
On what drives his work:
“Just make music that gives you goosebumps”
Amen, and preach to the king, Quincy Jones.
As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.
See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day