retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time
"I don't like repetition. For example, there have been nine songs in the Top Ten, I think, called "Hold On" (Including, I think, once there were two called "Hold On" simultaneously in the Top Ten). OK, if you're really cynical, and you've written a new song, you'll probably want to call it "Hold On" because it gives you an extra edge. But at the same time it shows so little interest in originality that I can't actually listen to anything called "Hold On" at this point in my life. I mean, it just seems crazy.
- So, if I have two little rules and guiding principles, they would be:
- (a) Don’t use words that other people use. Very few people would put the word, oh, I don’t know, “pterodactyl” into a song. So that’s fine. No “Oh”’s. No “Baby”’s. No “I miss you so”’s. And no “you done me wrong”. No “bad”’s or “sad”’s.
- [(b)] And the other thing is, write about subjects that no one else writes about. Basically 90% of all songs seem to be either "Baby, I love you so", or "Baby, you've done me wrong". Now, when people look at songs, when I play anybody on the planet this song, and I say "What is this?", they will say, "Oh, that's Reggae", or "Oh, that's Heavy Metal", or "That's Country & Western", or "Oh, that's Opera", you know what I mean? But that's not what I asked. They're answering a question I didn't ask. What they're saying is "That's the music". What I'm saying is "What is the song?" And the song is either "I've done you wrong", or, "Baby, I love you so", no matter what style it's played in. In other words, there's a huge difference between content and style, and, if you work more towards content, why not make it content that is original.
- If it's already been written, why write it again? If it's already been said, why say it again? I mean there are some remarkable quotes that I love. But I didn't say them. And you don't want to pass them off as your own work.
- Napoleon said that "Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted". And that, actually, has governed my life. You know what I mean? That's a quote you can live by. But it's not my quote. So if I say it I always credit it to Napoleon.
- There is another way of saying any of the things you want to say, rather than rehashing someone else's words."
- - Al Stewart, 2012