“The Song Machine” Quotes

I recently read The Song Machine: Inside The Hit Factory by John Seabrook. The quotes I found most interesting are below. If you like the quotes, click here to buy the book.

The Song Machine cover“CDs spawned a generation of record executives whose skill was in putting together compilations of existing music rather than discovering new artists.” (25)

Denniz PoP told a reporter, “It’s easy to say producing this music is equal to pushing a button in the studio. But that’s like saying writing a novel is a simple push of a button on your typewriter.” Denniz liked to say that no matter how technically adept you were at programming, sometimes you just had to “let art win.”” (32)

“Sweden had these farmers out there who were good at writing songs, but had no one to sing them. Songwriting was just a thing you did on your own when you were watching the cows, a kind of meditation. You didn’t focus as much on your ability as a performer as you did on the structure and craft of the songs. Which is really not the case in the US, where your charm and your voice and your powers as a performer come immediately into play.”” (38)

“A nation of songwriters endowed with melodic gifts, and who were meticulous about craft, but who were reluctant to perform their own songs, was a potential gold mine for a nation of wannabe pop stars who don’t write their own materials.” (38)

“Denniz once said, “It’s much more difficult to make it simple, especially achieving a simplicity without having it sound incredibly trivial.”” (39)

“Denniz put it, “A great pop song should be interesting, in some way. That means that certain people will hate it immediately and certain people will love it, but only as long as it isn’t boring and meaningless. Then it’s not a pop song any longer; then it’s something else. It’s just music.”” (39)

“Lyrics don’t need to mean anything much; the disco era had shown that. Lyrics that command too much attention are likely to kill the dancing.” (40)

“I think it was to our advantage that English was not our mother language,” Ekberg says, “because we are able to treat English very respectless, and just look for the word that sounded good with the melody.” Freed from making sense, the lyricists’ horizons are boundless.” (40)

“Cheiron studio needed an American act… not accidental stars with baggage, but lifers who would do whatever it takes to get to the top and stay there.” (46)

“At the beginning, the artists are regarded as mere hired hands by the writers and the producers, who are the real artists in the operation. But with success, the artists come to feel that they are, in fact, real artists – everything about the way they are sold to the world confirms it. They demand, at a minimum, more respect from their songwriters and producers, and they usually insist on more creative control over the songs. Some want to write their own material, often with disastrous results.” (68)

“They kept the labels’ names but little of their cool. The music business slowly changed from an art-house business run by men with ears into a corporate enterprise of quarterly earnings and timely results.” (116)

“Jimmy always says it’s all about the connection between the artist and the fans,” he says. “This whole business, it’s just about that connection.” (166)

“At the very least, that a pudgy guy with a goofy horse-riding dance (PSY’s Gangnam Style) could succeed where the most brilliantly engineered idol groups have not suggest that cultural technology can only get you so far. In the end, as Denniz PoP used to say, sometimes you have to let art win.” (167)

“Her main qualification as a singer was that she wanted to be one so badly. Rogers sensed that ambition ran deep – “I saw it in her eyes,” he says. But what was “it,” exactly? No mere girlish desire for fame; it was more likely a much more urgent need to escape from the anxieties of a violent home life into the illusion of security and boundless love that a life onstage seemed to offer. That desire, more than any inborn talent, is what fans will connect to, and that is what record men look for in a new artist. It’s the one thing they can’t manufacture.” (177)

“After appearing on several established rappers’ records, most notably Big Daddy Kane’s, Jay tried to get his own record deal, but the labels he approached, including Def Jam, turned him down. So he and his boys started their own label. They didn’t have a distribution deal; they sold their music out of the back of people’s cars in Brooklyn.” (181)

“All your instincts that make you successful, at some point in anyone’s life, those instincts will be wrong.” (235)

“Lenny Pickett says, “He has very good music skills, especially in the areas he needed to have them for producing music. Equally important, he had very good social skills, because if you don’t have those, doesn’t matter how good your tracks are, you’re going to end up being somebody’s helper.” (245)

“A fMRI study of people listening to music found that familiarity with a song reflexively causes emotional engagement; it doesn’t matter what you think of the song.” (303)

Kotecha says, “I always think in my head, if Max Martin was an American, he would have fizzled out a long time ago. He would have believed his own hype. But because he’s Swedish, he’s able to contain himself. He just focuses on being the best writer and producer and mentor he can be.” (306)

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“The Truth” Book Quotes

I recently read “The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships” by Neil Strauss. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, please buy the book here.

The Truth“Intimacy is sharing your reality with someone else and knowing you’re safe, and them being able to share their reality with you and also be safe.” (50)

“But why should you have to make that sacrifice? A relationship should be about what you both want, not about what you both don’t want each other to have.” (54)

“Maybe that’s the female dilemma. She marries someone who’s giving her love and romance, but over time she gets taken for granted or turned into a maid or becomes a baby factory or gets cheated on. There’s not a single emotional need of hers that’s filled by her husband. Then he has the nerve to complain that sh’es not sexual or attractive when he’s drained the life out of her.” (83)

“Childhood trauma may sneak up from behind and fuck you in the ass when you grow up, but at least it leaves a tip on the nightstand.” (84)

“As a journalist, I’ve met a lot of so-called experts. Most are just people with a little experience and a lot of confidence who’ve given themselves a title with which they can fool the suggestible and dim-witted.” (85)

“Remember that humor is a wall. It’s a form of denial, just the same as repression, rationalization, globalization, and minimization.” (85)

“Are you relentlessly driving yourself to succeed and beating yourself up when you fail? Maybe that’s because when you were a teenager, your parents made you feel as if your worth as a human being was dependent on your grades, touchdowns, or accomplishments.” (88)

“Only when our love for someone exceeds our need for them do we have a shot at a genuine relationship together.” (97)

“All my anxiety and fear and guilt have peeled away, as if they were layers of clothing I didn’t know I was wearing. I thought they were part of my skin the whole time, but it runs out they were someone else’s hand-me-downs.” (105)

“I used to think that intelligence came from books and knowledge and rational thought. But that’s not intelligence: It’s just information and interpretation. Real intelligence is when your mind and your heart connect. That’s when you see the truth so clearly and unmistakably that you don’t have to think about it.” (105)

“Suddenly there seem to be very few adults in the world, just suffering children and overcompensating adolescents.” (109)

“Continuously complying with someone else’s priorities at the expense of my own is called pathological accommodation.” (134)

“If you add up all the people who’ve cheated in their relationships, that’s tens of millions of customers in the U.S. alone. Now add to that the even huger number of people who watch porn, and this is the smartest business plan in the world. If they turn being male and horny into some kind of brain cancer that’s covered by health insurance, they’ll be billionaires.” (139)

“Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was so notorious for cheating on his wife with attractive women who attended sobriety meetings that his colleagues later started calling this type of lechery the thirteenth step.” (143)

“No matter what your point of view may be, you can always find someone with a Ph.D to support it.” (144)

“It was the Catholic CHurch that began a relentless campaign to make monogamy and lifelong marriages inviolable institutions in the ninth century.” (163)

“We have so many contradictory, repressive, self-limiting beliefs about sexuality – and almost every one of them stems from a pathological need to dictate to someone else what they are and aren’t allowed to do with their body and heart.” (166)

“Loneliness is holding in a joke because you have no one to share it with.” (175)

“Perhaps just as there are cults around religion, so too are there cults around intimacy. But instead of monotheists, pantheists, and atheists, there are monogamists, polyamorists, and celibates. Each belief system comes with its own rituals, whether they be twelve steps, pujas, exclusivity, adultery, or arguing about money every night.” (182)

“Guys bring their dating problems on themselves. They program their daughter with an aversion to men and sex for fear that she’ll meet someone just like her father, then they meet someone else’s daughter and expect her to just jump into bed without anxiety or reservation.” (192)

“When your wife is tired of making the effort to understand you, when she’s fed up with hearing the same stories coming out of your mouth, when she holds so much resentment that it poisons every conversation, when she’s nicer to telemarketers than she is to you, when the only time she’s passionate with anyone anymore is when she’s criticizing you – that’s when you want a mistress.” (217)

“Once fear of loss is taken away, you get past jealousy.” (221)

“Some people live in an endless on-and-off relationship with control. Either they’re trying to exert it over their lives – by getting obsessive about a diet, a belief system, a phobia, a hobby, a need for order, a twelve-step program – or they’re completely out of control, making a mess of their lives.” (230)

“Any good Jungian therapist will tell you, you’re not supposed to repress the shadow in the first place. That’s when bad things happen. The goal is to integrate it.” (230)

“I used to think that a good relationship meant always getting along. But the secret, I realize, is that when one person shuts down or throws a fit, the other needs to stay in the adult ego state. If both people descended to the wounded child or adapted adolescent, that’s when all the forces of relationship drama and destruction are unleashed.” (246)

“Relationships are about giving, not getting.” (264)

“Life is a learned skill, but instead of teaching it, our culture force-fills developing minds with long division and capital cities-until, at the end of the mandatory period of bondage that’s hyperbolically called school, we’re sent into the world knowing little about it. And so, left on our own to figure out the most important parts of life, we make mistakes for years until, by the time we’ve learned enough from our stumbling to be effective human beings, it’s time for us to die.” (266)

“I have no idea what the boundary is between taking care of my emotions, wants, and needs and taking care of the emotions, wants, and needs of others.” (281)

“The problem many people have is that the exact quality that originally attracted them to their partner becomes a threat once a serious relationship beings.” (324)

“Most people seem to believe that if a relationship doesn’t last until death, it’s a failure. But the only relationship that’s truly a failure is one that lasts longer than it should. The success of a relationship should be measured by its depth, not by its length.” (334)

“Willard F. Harley writes that a man needs five basic things from his wife: sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, physical attractiveness, domestic support, and admiration… A woman’s five basic needs are affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial support, and family commitment.” (334)

“Try is the critical word here, because managing feelings is like tamping lions. No matter how successful you think you are, they’re still ultimately in control.” (342)

“life is a test and you pass if you can be true to yourself.” (347)

“Sex is easy to find – whether through game, money, chance, social proof, or charm. So are affairs, orgies, adventures, and three-month relationships-if you know where to look and are willing to go there. But love is rare.” (350)

“Evidently, if you have long receptors in the brain’s reward center for the hormone vasopressin, then you’re more likely to be monogamous. If not, then you’re a born player.” (363)

“The person who is too smart to love is truly an idiot.” (365)

“Our lives are like children’s building-block games in which objects are stacked one by one on top of each other. You can build the tower to a certain height without a problem, but as it continues to grow, eventually the instability of the foundation will cause everything to come tumbling down.” (366)

“love is when two (or more) hearts build a safe emotional, mental, and spiritual home that will stand strong no matter how much anyone changes on the inside or the outside. It demands only one things and expects only one thing: that each person be his or her own true self.” (381)

“I realize that I made a mistake by equating variety with freedom. I’m off all social and dating apps and websites. That’s freedom. Less than twenty people have my email address. That’s freedom. My phone barely makes a sound. that’s freedom.” (381)

“It turns out that leaving all my options open has kept me too busy juggling them to really live.” (381)

“The most caring thing to do when they’re upset is simply to ask if they want you to listen, to give advice, to give them space, or to give them loving touch.” (395)

“You can’t change a person unless they’re in diapers.” (400)

Harville Hendrix wrote that the unconscious purpose of a long-term relationship is to finish childhood.” (405)

“True intimacy is when partners stop living in the past – in their trauma history – and start having a relationship with each other in the present moment.” (406)

“In the end, love is not about finding the right person. It’s about becoming the right person>” (408)

“I’ve started thinking of the things my parents didn’t do perfectly as variables that make me an individual rather than as trauma that makes me a patient.” (416)

“It’s tragic. The wounds that humans get are so strong that they’re like robots operating on childhood programming.” (417)

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“When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead” Quotes

I recently read “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories From A Persuasive Man” by Jerry Weintraub (with Rich Cohen). Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

Jerry Weintraub“Though he was selling rubies and sapphires and I am selling Clooney, Pitt, and Damon, the trick is the same: packaging. You might have the greatest talent in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t sell it.” (8)

“When you dig through all the craziness of my life, you’ll see that I’m just a guy from the Bronx who knows how to a attract a crowd.” (8)

“At some point, you forget the object, and the means becomes the end. You work for the joy of the work.” (16)

“Relationships are the only thing that really matters, in business and in life.” (17)

“I saw the neighborhood with new eyes. It was no longer just streets and stores: It was needs and opportuinties, money to be made. Once you see the world this way, things are never the same.” (19)

“As soon as you feel comfortable, that’s when it’s time to start over.” (27)

“Do not get attached to the world as it is, because the world is changing, something new is coming, every ten years a big hand comes down and sweeps the dishes off the table.” (38)

“Grunt jobs are often the most instructive – they allow you to flow through an organization unnoticed, a corpuscle or cell moving in and out of the heart and lungs.” (39)

“The job of an agent is, in part, anyway, to bullshit and schmooze: How better to find talent than by seeing who can talk his way into a career?” (42)

“An idea is only crazy, after all, until someone pulls it off.” (52)

“A lot depends on who you know, who you can get to. If you have people who will open the door for you, literally and figuratively, you can make a pitch. It’s in your hands from there.” (65)

“Ther person who makes it is the person who keeps on going after everyone else has quit. This is more important than intelligence, pedigree, even connections. Be dogged! Keep hitting that door until you bust it down! I have accomplished almost nothing on the first or second or even the third try – the breakthrough usually comes late, when everyone else has left the field.” (76)

“Let the other guy save face with his people, but keep score.” (98)

“What had started as a ploy to snap Frank out of his depression had turned into a major deal – handled wrong, it could turn into a major embarrassment.
At such times, I become obsessed with details. That’s where God is, so that’s where I go, with my notebook and phone numbers and head full of ideas. The people, the angles, the chairs – I wanted to get everything exactly right.” (111)

“it’s best, when selling something new, to envision the goal – let the entire world hear John Denver – then work your way back. How do we get there? Now and then, it happens by itself. This is a matter of luck, zeitgeist. More often, you have to be creative, crabwalk your way.” (121)

“You can evolve and grow but you should never resent your thing. If you look at how few artists actually make it, you will recognize that those trademarks, though in some ways limiting, are a gift of providence.” (121)

“Know what you’re buying. Was I buying Nashville? No, I was buying Robert Altman. I did not understand the script, but Altman did, and it was Altman who was going to make the movie.” (164)

“Work with the best people. If you have the best writers, the best actors, and the best director and fail, okay, fine, there is even something noble in it; but if you fail with garbage, then you are left with nothing to hang your spirits on.” (167)

“I don’t care what kind of cast you have, how beautifully the thing is shot – if you don’t have the right script, you’re going to fail.” (179)

“Being successful means filling your life with calls you want to return.” (204)

“You have to be willing to walk away from the most comfortably perch, precisely because it is the most comfortable.” (204)

“I believe in not getting hung up or paralyzed in a quest for perfection, but by the same token, you have to identify what is truly important and hold out until you can get those things right.” (209)

“People think that Hollywood and politics operate in different spheres – they don’t. The world is very small at the top, with a few thousand players running everything. For a producer, an actor, a banker, a politican – name your celebrity – crossing genres is less a matter of making connections with the leaders of other industries than of climbing high enough in your own to reach the place where all lines converge.” (229)

“From Kennedy I learned that the best politicians are not different from movie stars. They charm, communicate, command. THe good ones never make you feel isolated or small, as if they have something you don’t. Quit the opposite. They include you in their world, enlarge you, make you recognize the best qualities in yourself.” (230)

“This is why politicians seek out movie stars, and why movie stars want to become politicians. They seek the same target, which is the soul of the people.” (231)

“People judge on first sight, so make those surfaces shine.” (245)

“Steve Ross said, ‘What are you worrying about? You are a talented guy. That talent did not go away. The company went away? So what! Companies always go away. They’re a dime a dozen. It’s talent that counts!” (248)

“I don’t care if you get flattened a thousand times. As long as you get up that thousand and first time, you win. As Hemingway said, ‘You can never tell the quality of a bullfighter until that bullfighter has been gored.’” (248)

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“Even This I Get To Experience” Quotes

I recently read Even This I Get To Experience by Norman Lear. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

Even This I Get To Experience“Alone with Hans Conried for a moment, I said, ‘You’re a major talent with a big reputation. Why do you agree to substitute for another actor without a single question, not about billing, or even money?’ His response became a marker along my career path. ‘I work to work, Norman, and the rest follows,’ he said, adding, ‘When it isn’t about the money, it’s funny how much seems to come your way.’” (139)

“Typical of Fred Allen was his attitude toward television. ‘It is called a medium because it is neither rare nor well-done.’ As to ‘the minds that control it,’ he said, ‘you could put them in the navel of a flea and still have room enough beside them for the heart of a network vice president.’” (147)

“As I would learn in the seventies, a dozen protest letters from among millions of viewers were considered a “flood” to an advertising agency.” (163)

“I learned from Kib that just about anything can be improved, and that reaching for perfection, not necessarily achieving it, was worth the effort.” (171)

“I dictated the first draft of everything I wrote.” (207)

“I told Richard Brooks I had never owned a camera, had never taken a lot of pictures, even of my children, and knew nothing about lenses and such. He asked me, in that case, why in hell I had been toying with the idea. I was stumped, and Richard answered his question for me: ‘Because you know what you want to see, don’t you?’
Oh, yes, I had to acknowledge, I knew exactly what I wanted to see.
‘Then get yourself a great cinematographer and tell him what you want.’ (225)

“Comedy with something serious on its mind works as a kind of intravenous to the mind and spirit. After he winces and laughs, what the individual makes of the material depends on the individual, but he has been reached.” (235)

“The audiences themselves taught me that you can get some wonderful laughs on the surface of anything with funny performers and good jokes, but if you want them laughing from the belly, you stand a better chance of achieving it if you can get them caring first.” (262)

“A relatively small group of agitators, especially when convinced God is on their side, can move corporate America to quake with fear and make decisions in total disregard of the Constitution that protects against such decisions.” (266)

“An audience is entertained when it’s involved to the point of laughters or tersa – ideally, both.” (266)

“There is stress, and then there is ‘joyful’ stress.” (279)

“A rabbi shared his Talmudic-style version of what I was attempting to convey: ‘A man should have a garment with two pockets. In the first pocket should be a piece of paper on which is written, ‘I am but dust and ashes.’ In the second should be a piece of paper on which is written, ‘For me the world was created.’” (402)

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“Ally” Quotes

I recently read “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide” by Michael B. Oren. The quotes I found most interesting are below. If you like the quotes, please buy the book here.


Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 6.25.05 PM“The Arabs were once dependent on American oil.” (39)

“The single best American insight into the Middle East – by former Union Army General-in-Chief George McClellan, who in 1874 warned that the United States would never understand its peoples “so long as we judge them by the rules we are accustomed to apply to ourselves.” (40)

“Accustomed to leaders like McCain, crusty old soldiers and seasoned pols, Israelis could not understand why Americans would choose a candidate lacking in any military, administrative, or foreign policy experience. Overweight, short, bald or bespectacled candidates stand little chance in a U.S. presidential election, but Israelis readily voted for portly Ariel Sharon, diminutive Ehud Barak, and Menachem Begin, who was both follically and visually challenged. Americans prefer their presidents to be eloquent, attractive, and preferably strong-jawed. Such qualities, in the life-and-death stakes of Israel, are irrelevant.” (43)

“Unlike AMericans who salute rank – a policeman is always “officer,” and a former president is still “Mr. President” – Israelis salute the person. The commander of the IDF is not called “general” and the chief justice of the SUpreme Court is not “your Honor.” Rather, they are addressed by their first names and, more frequently, their nicknames. This informality, a vestige perhaps of the biblical contempt for kings or the time when Israel’s population was minuscule, removes the interpersonal barriers. But it also erases private space.” (73)

“On American television, naive characters often had a southern drawl – but naifs on Israeli TV frequently sound like Americans.” (73)

“Far more than achieving a historic peace, possibly winning the Nobel Prize, and guaranteeing his place in diplomatic history, Abbas wanted to remain in power and stay alive.” (81)

“America’s new policies set conditions for talks that Israel could never meet and that Palestinians could not ignore. For the first time in the history of the U.S.-Israel alliance, the White House denied the validity of a previous presidential commitment.” (81)

“Henry Wotton observed, “An ambassador is a man of virtue sent abroad to lie for his country.” (89)

“Vernon Jordan told me that Obama was not Israel’s chief problem. Rather it was America’s economic crisis, which showed scant sign of abating, and its retreat from global leadership.” (93)

“Abracadabra means ‘I speak therefore I create.’”

“From Obama’s autobiographical works arose the image of an individual who had overcome adversity early in life, who displayed resilience and contempt for weakness but also a cold-blooded need for control. Projecting that need, not surprisingly, made his administration the most centralized since World War II, with many key decisions made in the Oval Office.” (97)

“Perhaps, too, Obama’s rejection by not one but two Muslim father figures informed his outreach to Islam.” (98)

“Instinctively, human beings seek order in the universe and, in politics, a clear formula for decision making. In reality, though, randomness – whims, quirks, gaffes – determines much of the relations between individuals, just as it does among nations.” (98)

“Israelis, very few of whom own firearms, frequently asked me why Americans needed so many guns when they had such a powerful army. “They need guns to protect them from the army,” I explained.” (106)

“in America, less than half of a percent of the population volunteers for the armed forces.” (108)

“Most Jewish holidays, an old joke goes, can be reduced to nine words: “They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.” (120)

“Golda Meir said, “We Jews have a secret weapon, we have nowhere else to go.” (135)

“Israelis have difficulty understanding America’s missionizing zeal and the belief – hardwired into the nation’s identity – that the United states was created not only for its own good but for all of humanity’s.” (196)

“I once heard Obama say, “Mediating between Israelis and Palestinians is harder than mediating between Democrats and Republicans.” (207)

“The last thing I expected was to be accosted by a ninety-year-old Jewish woman whose head barely reached my belt. “I like you, but I don’t like everything your country does,” she growled.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” I courteously replied, “but do you like everything your country does?”
“No.” She wagged her finger in my face. “But your country must be perfect.” (254)

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