All the Good Music’s Already Been Written By People With Wigs and Stuff On

Frank Zappa? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Iconoclastic musician and composer Frank Zappa was known for his trenchant cultural commentary. Apparently, he once stated that all the good music had already been created by the composers of an earlier era who stereotypically wore wigs. Would you please help me to find a citation

Quote Investigator: In November 1986 “The Progressive” published an interview with Frank Zappa conducted by freelance writers Batya Friedman and Steve Lyons. Zappa was asked about the place of the composer in contemporary society. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

I don’t think a composer has any function in society at all, especially in an industrial society, unless it is writing music scores, advertising jingles, or stuff that is consumed in industry.

Zappa included a provocative statement about the novelty of modern music:

All the good music’s already been written by people with wigs and stuff on.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading All the Good Music’s Already Been Written By People With Wigs and Stuff On

Notes:

  1. 1986 November, The Progressive, Volume 50, Number 11, The Progressive Interview: Frank Zappa: Revolt Against Mediocrity by Batya Friedman and Steve Lyons, Start Page 35, Quote Page 36, Column 2, The Progressive Inc., Madison, Wisconsin. (Verified with hardcopy)

You Cannot Control the Length of Your Life, But You Can Control Its Width and Depth.

Evan Esar? H. L. Mencken? Exchange? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The key to achieving equanimity and contentment in life is accurately assessing what is within your control and what is beyond your control. The following figurative adage is instructive:

You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.

These words have been ascribed to quotation collector Evan Esar and acerbic pundit H. L. Mencken. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Evan Esar did include this saying in a collection he published in 1968, but it was already in circulation, and he did not craft it. H. L. Mencken did receive credit for the statement by the 1980s, but he died in 1956, and there is no substantive evidence that he coined it.

The earliest close match located by QI appeared in a California newspaper in 1924 which acknowledged the journal “Exchange”. The elaborate saying contained ten parts. The first nine parts were implicitly prefaced with the phrase “You cannot control”. Below are the first three parts together with the final part. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

YOU CANNOT CONTROL
The length of your life, but you can control its width and depth.
The contour of your countenance, but you can control its expression.
The other fellow’s opportunities, but you can grasp your own.
. . .
Why worry about things you can’t control? Get busy controlling the things that you can.—Exchange.

QI has not yet determined the issue of “Exchange” containing this saying. Nor has QI determined the identity of the creator. Thus, for now, the quotation remains anonymous.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Cannot Control the Length of Your Life, But You Can Control Its Width and Depth.

Notes:

  1. 1924 August 14, Visalia Morning Delta, Contemporaneous Opinions: You Cannot Control, Quote Page 2, Column 2, Visalia, California. (Newspapers_com)

Education ‘To Earn a Living’ Will Become an Anachronism

R. Buckminster Fuller? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: In recent years the discussion of artificial intelligence and robotics replacing human workers has resurfaced. In addition, economic ideas such as universal basic income have been proposed to ameliorate societal dislocations. I am reminded of discourses from the 1960s.

The controversial pathbreaking inventor and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller believed that large-scale automation was going to render obsolete the requirement that each person ‘earn a living’. Instead, he thought individuals would engage in life-long education based on self-selected goals and desires. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1961 Southern Illinois University asked R. Buckminster Fuller to share his ideas about building an entirely new college campus. Fuller delivered a lecture which was turned into a book titled “Education Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return to His Studies” published in 1962. Fuller touched upon the following theme several times during his career. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Much of the educational system today is aimed at answering: “How am I going to survive? How am I going to get a job? I must earn a living.” That is the priority item under which we are working all the time—the idea of having to earn a living. That problem of “how are we going to earn a living?” is going to go out the historical window, forever, in the next decade, and education is going to be disembarrassed of the unseen “practical” priority bogeyman. Education will then be concerned primarily with exploring to discover not only more about the universe and its history but about what the universe is trying to do, about why man is part of it, and about how can, and may man best function in universal evolution.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Education ‘To Earn a Living’ Will Become an Anachronism

Notes:

  1. 1962 Copyright, Education Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return to His Studies by R. Buckminster Fuller, (Text based on a talk delivered by Fuller on April 22, 1961 to the Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville Campus Planning Committee), Quote Page 43, Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, (Verified with scans)

I Say Hardly Any of Those Clever Things That Are Attributed To Me

Dorothy Parker? Yogi Berra? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Numerous sharp remarks have been credited incorrectly to the well-known wit Dorothy Parker. She was well aware of these misattributions, and she once commented that many of those clever remarks were not hers. Would you please help me to find a citation for her general disclaimer?

Quote Investigator: In 1941 journalist Hubbard Keavy spoke to Dorothy Parker and asked about the proliferation of epigrams and witticisms ascribed to her. She replied with humor. The ellipsis was in the original text. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

“Quips? Oh. Ridiculous, isn’t it? To have such a reputation, I mean.

“I am not witty and I am not funny. But I do have a reputation as a smarty pants…I say hardly any of those clever things that are attributed to me. I wouldn’t have time to earn a living if I said all those things.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Say Hardly Any of Those Clever Things That Are Attributed To Me

Notes:

  1. 1941 December 7, Akron Beacon Journal, Dorothy Parker Quips Funny…But She Didn’t Say Them by Hubbard Keavy (Beacon Journal Special Writer), Quote Page 9A, Column 1, Akron, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)

In Order To Be Irreplaceable One Must Always Be Different

Coco Chanel? Marcel Haedrich? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A cookie created with a cookie cutter is easily replaceable, and this fact lowers its perceived value. This baking utensil is employed in a metaphorical insult targeting lack of originality, e.g., cookie-cutter clothes and cookie-cutter houses.

Understandably, people like to view themselves as irreplaceable. Yet, to achieve this distinction a person must be in some way unique. The famous fashion designer Coco Chanel made this point in a quotation. Would you please help me to find a citation?.

Quote Investigator: Coco Chanel (Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel) died in 1971, and in that same year, French journalist Marcel Haedrich published “Coco Chanel: Secrète” which included a section listing quotations ascribed to Chanel titled “Elle disait” (“She said”). The following were three of her remarks in the original French. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

En matière de mode aussi, il n’y a que les imbéciles qui ne changent pas d’avis.

La couleur? Celle qui vous va.

Pour être irremplaçable, il faut rester différente.

The translation of Haedrich’s book into English appeared a year later under the title “Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets”. The three statements above were rendered as follows: 2

That it is only fools who never change their views applies as well in fashion.

What is the best color? The one that most becomes you.

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading In Order To Be Irreplaceable One Must Always Be Different

Notes:

  1. 1971, Coco Chanel Secrète by Marcel Haedrich, Chapter 21: Coco au travail, Section: Elle disait, Quote Page 308, Éditions Robert Laffont, Paris. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1972, Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets by Marcel Haedrich, Translated from French to English by Charles Lam Markmann, Chapter 21: Coco at Work, Section: She Said, Quote Page 255, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified on paper)

Don’t Pray When It Rains If You Don’t Pray When the Sun Shines

Satchel Paige? Billy Sunday? Hal Boyle? Apocryphal? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Prayers are typically offered when a dangerous situation is encountered or when a disturbing event occurs. Yet, prayers of joy and thankfulness are also appropriate when something positive happens. The following metaphorical guidance is pertinent:

Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.

These words have been credited to the acclaimed baseball pitcher Leroy Paige (Satchel Paige). Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1959 Hal Boyle, a columnist with the Associated Press, wrote a piece about Satchel Paige that included quotations from the Hall of Famer . Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Don’t Pray When It Rains If You Don’t Pray When the Sun Shines

Notes:

  1. 1959 October 2, Moberly Monitor-Index, Famous Negro Pitcher in Love With Movies After First Role by Hal Boyle (Associated Press), Quote Page 10, Column 6, Moberly, Missouri. (Newspapers_com)

You Might Dispense With Half Your Doctors If You Would Only Consult Doctor Sun More

Henry Ward Beecher? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous nineteenth-century clergyman, social reformer, and orator Henry Ward Beecher offered some intriguingly modern health advice. He felt that people should “consult Doctor Sun more”. They should frequently enjoy the open air, sunlight, and rain. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: On May 6th, 1860 Henry Ward Beecher spoke at Plymouth Church of New York City before the Brooklyn Young Men’s Christian Association. His speech on “Physical Culture” appeared in “The American Phrenological Journal”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

There are here and there men found wise enough to take a portion of every day for some form of exercise—to live for hours in the open air every day. The very sun itself is doctor. I think you might dispense with half your doctors if you would only consult Doctor Sun more, and be more under the treatment of those great hydropathic doctors, the clouds! To be in the rain will do you good, if you only keep stirring. To be much in the open air every day, rain or shine, summer or winter, I consider one of the indispensable conditions of general health.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Might Dispense With Half Your Doctors If You Would Only Consult Doctor Sun More

Notes:

  1. 1860 August, The American Phrenological Journal, Volume 32, Number 2, Physical Culture: A Sermon by Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, (Preached at Plymouth Church before the Brooklyn Young Men’s Christian Association on May 6th, 1860), Fowler and Wells Publishers, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

“Did Hamlet Have an Affair with Ophelia?” “In My Theater Company, Invariably”

John Barrymore? Walter Sichel? William Powell Frith? Anonymous Scene-Shifter? Johnston Forbes-Robertson? Arthur Machen? Cedric Hardwicke? Errol Flynn?

Dear Quote Investigator: The theater world has long been known for complex tempestuous relationships between cast members on and off the stage. One comical tale concerns the ambiguous relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia presented in William Shakespeare’s renowned tragedy.

An inquisitive theatergoer asked a well-known stage manager, “Did Hamlet have an affair with Ophelia?” The manager quickly responded, “In my company, always”.

Would you please explore the history of this tale?

Quote Investigator: In 1923 “The Sands of Time: Recollections and Reflections” by Walter Sichel appeared. The author relayed a story he heard from the painter William Powell Frith who died in 1909. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

At one time he delighted to go behind the scenes of the theatre and chat with the scene-shifters. One of them appeared very intelligent, and Mr. Frith asked him if he had ever himself been a player. He had, in the provinces. Had he ever acted Shakespeare? Of course he had, he had played in ‘Amlick, he had, indeed, acted the chief part.

“Very interesting,” said Mr. Frith, “please tell me what is your conception of Hamlet’s relation to Ophelia. Did he, so to speak, love her not wisely but too well?“I don’t know, sir, if ‘Amlick did, but I did,” was the unblushing answer.

The key line was delivered by an anonymous thespian who also worked as a member of a stage crew. This family of anecdotes is highly variable in expression; thus, the origin is difficult to trace.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading “Did Hamlet Have an Affair with Ophelia?” “In My Theater Company, Invariably”

Notes:

  1. 1923, The Sands of Time: Recollections and Reflections by Walter Sichel, Chapter 8: Editorship—and After, Quote Page 238, Hutchinson and Company, London, England. (HathiTrust Full View)

Socialism Would Take Too Many Evenings

Oscar Wilde? H. G. Wells? George Bernard Shaw? Michael Walzer? Arnold S. Kaufman? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Some forms of socialism are implemented via a participatory process. An engaged citizen would attend meetings, learn about different approaches, discuss topics, formulate policies, build consensus, and vote. These tasks can be quite laborious. Here are two versions of a critical statement:

  • Socialism would take too many evenings.
  • The trouble with socialism is that it takes up too many evenings.

This saying has been attributed to the famous wit Oscar Wilde, the science fiction author H. G. Wells, and the prominent playwright George Bernard Shaw. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Oscar Wilde died in 1900. H. G. Wells died in 1946. G. B. Shaw died in 1950. QI has not yet found convincing evidence that this remark was made by any of these three luminaries.

The earliest match found by QI appeared in the journal “Dissent” in 1968. Political theorist Michael Walzer published “A Day in the Life of a Socialist Citizen: Two Cheers for Participatory Democracy”. Walzer asserted that: “Self-government is a very demanding and time-consuming business”, and he referred to “meetings of study groups, clubs, editorial boards, and political parties where criticism will be carried on long into the night”. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

Socialism, Oscar Wilde once wrote, would take too many evenings. This is, it seems to me, one of the most significant criticisms of socialist theory that has ever been made. The fanciful sketch above is only intended to suggest its possible truth. Socialism’s great appeal is the prospect it holds out for the development of human capacities.

The statement attributed to Wilde was not enclosed in quotation marks; hence, it was possible that Walzer was using his own words to present a paraphrase or summary of Wilde’s viewpoint. Currently, QI does not know the underlying source, and QI hopes that this article can be used as a starting point for future researchers who will make additional advances.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Socialism Would Take Too Many Evenings

Notes:

  1. 1968 May-June, Dissent, A Day in the Life of a Socialist Citizen: Two Cheers for Participatory Democracy by Michael Walzer, Start Page 243, Quote Page 243, Dissent Publishing Corporation, New York. (Verified with hardcopy)

When You’re 60 You Realize No One Was Ever Thinking About You

Winston Churchill? Will Rogers? Jock Falkson? Ann Landers? Ewan McGregor? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: One’s sensitivity to the opinions of others often changes as one matures. The following statement has been attributed to statesman Winston Churchill:

When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.

I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive support for the attribution to Winston Churchill. Historian and Churchill quotation expert Richard M. Langworth signaled his skepticism when he included the statement in an article titled “All the ‘Quotes’ Winston Churchill Never Said”. 1

QI believes that the saying evolved over time, and famous humorist Will Rogers popularized an intriguing tripartite variant in the 1930s. See further below.

A thematic precursor was written by prominent lexicographer Samuel Johnson in 1751 who noted that most people were preoccupied with their own affairs. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

But the truth is, that no man is much regarded by the rest of the world, except where the interest of others is involved in his fortune. The common employments or pleasures of life, love or opposition, loss or gain, keep almost every mind in perpetual agitation. If any man would consider how little he dwells upon the condition of others, he would learn how little the attention of others is attracted by himself.

In August 1934 “The Minneapolis Star” of Minnesota printed an anonymous three-part saying based on the ages of 20, 30, and 40 instead of 20, 40, and 60. The attitudes expressed in the first two parts were flipped with respect to the target quotation. The attitude specified in the third part matched the target: 3

At 20 we don’t care what the world thinks of us; at 30 we worry about what it thinks of us; at 40 we discover it doesn’t think of us.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading When You’re 60 You Realize No One Was Ever Thinking About You

Notes:

  1. Website: Richard M. Langworth, Title: All the “Quotes” Winston Churchill Never Said (1), Date on website: November 8, 2018, Sub-section: Caring What Others Think. (Accessed May 31, 2019) link
  2. 1752, The Rambler, Issue date: 1751 September 24, Number 159, (Essay by Samuel Johnson), Quote Page 6, Printed by Sands, Murray, and Cochran, Edinburgh. (Google Books Full View) link
  3. 1934 August 6, The Minneapolis Star, (Filler item), Quote Page 6, Column 1, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Newspapers_com)