- Birthday, Music, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Miles Davis on Life, Music, Creation, and More.


Happy birthday, Miles Davis! Here are some quotes from the musician.


“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”


“I know what the power of silence is.”


“I’ll play it and tell you what it is later.”


“When you are creating your own shit, man, even the sky ain’t the limit.”


“For me, music and life are all about style.”


“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning. That’s when it starts—when I wake up and see the first light. Then, I’m grateful, and I can’t wait to wake up, because there’s something new to do and try every day. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.”


“You have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.”


“Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent.”


“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”


“The only thing I’m interested in is the music and the musicians. I don’t acknowledge applause ’cause I’m giving them something. They’re not giving me anything with their applause. Can I write that down?”


“It’s like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here? What kind of shit is that, but white people’s shit?”


“If somebody told me I only had an hour to live, I’d spend it choking a white man. I’d do it nice and slow.”


  • 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.

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