Happy birthday, George Clinton! 78, today! Lucky to have seen George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic perform live many, many times. If you’re not deeply familiar with George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, etc., you likely have massive gaps in your understanding not only of American music but of the culture as a whole. Here are some quotes from Clinton.
“Change your mind, and you change your relation to time.”
“[W]e just need to learn how to dance.”
“I’m learning that ain’t nothing impossible. Whatever goes up doesn’t have to come back down, and nothing surprises me. OK, we can store information in the cloud now. I’m not surprised by any of it, but I like thinking about the possibilities.”
“I just have fun thinking about all the contingencies and what’s going on. You know it’s time for something to happen or we’ll be bored as hell.”
“To me, we’re ready for another 10 percent. They say we only use 10 percent of our brainpower, and if we don’t get another 10 percent allocation, we’re going to be in trouble from just boredom, from just being bored by running into the same problems socially, and just trying to live as a biological being. We’re going to need that 10 percent of brainpower just to keep up with technology, and our spiritual and social sides. Machines are going to take over really quick if we don’t figure out how to get along with each other.”
“The mere fact of surviving in this industry is a huge victory. But survivors forget that the alternative is annihilation. They think that the choice is between a good career and a great one. They reach for stardom. And those unrealistic expectations are compounded by creative ability, or the lack of ability. People don’t have a clear idea of what they can and can’t do as artists. I knew my limits. I knew what I couldn’t do. I couldn’t play an instrument. I couldn’t sing as well as some and I couldn’t arrange as well as some others. But I could see the whole picture from altitude, and that let me land the planes.”
“Soon as you hear parents say, ‘What the hell are you listening to? That ain’t music’—that’s gonna be the new music.”
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.