Musicians gave good quote in the ’80s.
There were various factors at play: an eclectic, popular, influential music press, a phalanx of opinionated, ambitious journos, the rise of tabloid ‘diaries’ and of course a surfeit of great interviewees.
The decade’s cultural mix of politics, drugs, sex, music and fashion also made for a rich brew of conversation topics.
Young, gobby and fearless artists wanted to make a significant first impression, knowing that good quotes made great publicity, while the big names of the ’70s were still hellbent on coming across as relevant or at least engaged.
So here’s a parade of sometimes preposterous, sometimes profound, sometimes downright weird and sometimes even intelligent quotes, archived from interviews, anthologies and mags of the time, all unapologetically taken completely out of context. Enjoy.
34. ‘A lot of songs that have been called sexist are about my daughter. I did a song called Girl which went: “You treat me like a dog and I shake my tail for you”, because she’s the only girl who’s ever had me on all fours doing impressions of horses.’
David Coverdale of Whitesnake (1984)
33. ‘Women rule the world and no man has ever done anything that a woman either hasn’t allowed him to do or encouraged him to do.’
Bob Dylan (1984)
32. ‘Sex? I’d rather have a nice cup of tea.’
Boy George (1983)
31. ‘You do an interview and they ask you if your guitar is a phallic symbol. F**k off. I don’t hold it because it’s shaped like a cock, I hold it because it’s a guitar.’
Lita Ford (1989)
30. ‘A lot of people I know are dead because of him.’
Chrissie Hynde on Keith Richards (1986)
29. ‘I’ve smoked so much pot I’m surprised I haven’t turned into a bush.’
Joe Strummer (1984)
LET’S GET SPIRITUAL:
28. ‘I’m self-made. I always wanted to make myself a better person because I was not educated. But that was my dream – to have class.’
Tina Turner (1986)
27. ‘People only get one chance to meet you, and if you’re not an arsehole, why give them the opportunity of thinking you are?’
Phil Collins (1989)
26. ‘I don’t like to relax. Show me a motherf****r that’s relaxed and I’ll show you a motherf****r that’s scared of success.’
Miles Davis (1983)
25. ‘I think I’m fairly consistent with people. But at the end of the day, I don’t give a bollocks.’
Bob Geldof (1989)
24. ‘When you look like a cartoon, you act like a cartoon.’
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top (1989)
23. ‘Fancy being a bee, leading an incredible existence, all those flowers, designed just for you, incredible colours, some trip.’
Kate Bush (1989)
22. ‘A lot of people think I’m clinically mad.’
21. ‘I’m as good as anyone. Even Prince.’
Kevin Rowland (1988)
20. ‘I don’t mean to sound big-headed but I honestly don’t think we’ve put a foot wrong in 20 years.’
Mike Rutherford of Genesis (1989)
19. ‘Don’t forget Spandau did “To Cut A Long Story Short”, “Chant No. 1” and “True” – three big changes in music.’
Gary Kemp (1984)
18. ‘One more hit and we’re the most successful girl group of all time. We’ll pass The Supremes. Sad, isn’t it?’
Sarah Dallin of Bananarama (1988)
17. ‘I was walking down the street the other day and I heard this sound. I thought it was a great new band playing something intriguing. It turned out to be an air conditioner unit in an elevator.’
Reeves Gabrels of Tin Machine (1989)
16. ‘Don’t buy one of those pointy guitars, kids. They’ll give ya VD.’
Paul Westerberg of The Replacements (1987)
15. ‘Unlike other guitarists, I don’t play things that are rubbish.’
Yngwie Malmsteen (1984)
14. ‘Some of our best songs were written on one string.’
The Edge of U2 (1987)
13. ‘I’ve just always been like this slowhand…like the arthritic guitar method.’
George Harrison (1988)
12. ‘I will say one thing – I invented the electric bass and everybody knows it.’
Jaco Pastorius (1983)
11. ‘Lots of people think songs without singing is not a song. Tell Beethoven that and he’ll kick your ass!’
Eddie Van Halen (1985)
10. ‘After the first album, Meat just lost it completely. “GRUNT! GRUNT! GRUNT! GRUNT!” I had to listen to that for nine months. That pig can’t sing a f***ing note.’
Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman (1989)
9. ‘Protect my voice? From what? Vandals?’
Tom Waits (1983)
8. ‘I’m listening to my album now and wishing that I had kept my yap shut. I hate my voice. It just makes me sick.’
Chrissie Hynde (1989)
7. ‘Bob is Bob and he always will be. And that’s why he’s Bob.’
Jeff Lynne on Bob Dylan (1989)
6. ‘I hate it. It’s the worst. A pile of shit. There is not one good thing I can find to say about it.’
Lee Mavers of The La’s on their debut album (1989)
5. ‘I’m not putting Elvis down but he was a shit-ass, a yellow belly and I hated the f***er.’
Jerry Lee Lewis (1989)
4. ‘Once upon a time it was enough to know that U2 are crap, but not anymore. Now you’ve got to know why they’re crap.’
Julian Cope (1983)
3. ‘My son likes Madness. I though he was going to start liking A Flock Of Seagulls, which worried me a lot…’
David Bowie (1983)
2. ‘I get a strange swell of pride when I hear of our football hooligans causing trouble abroad.’
Joe Strummer (1989)
1. ‘If you’re unemployed in New York, you’re an artist. If you’re unemployed in LA, you’re an actor. In London, everyone’s unemployed so it doesn’t matter.’
Lydia Lunch (1983)
8 thoughts on “Bigmouth Strikes Again: The 34 Greatest Music Quotes Of The 1980s”
Excellent selection of quotes. I especially love the one from Reeves Gabrels. I still have no idea why Lee Mavers hates his album so much. It’s evidence that artists are often the worst judges of their own work.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks Rich, and agree. That Reeves one chimed with me too. I’ve had a few similar experiences.
It is weird that The La’s seem to uniformly hate their debut. I think sometimes musicians get a bit derailed by the recording process. I don’t know the history of that album but maybe there were multiple producers/demo sessions or serious record company intrusion etc. Then again, perhaps the band were just very ‘difficult’ guys, which of course is very possible…
Great fun. The Strummer on weed is great, as is the Reeves Gabrels. Surprising and welcome humour from The Edge, too. But my favourite is Sarah Dallin (18); insightful, funny, self-deprecating all at once. Brilliant.
Thanks for that, Bruce, glad you enjoyed. That whole NME Strummer interview I think became quite infamous, from 1989 I think. I must try and dig it out online somewhere.
I’ve read a few interviews with Bananarama from that time (including a great ‘Who The Hell’ Tom Hibbert one from Q magazine) and they do seem to have that very engaging mixture of qualities. Often hilarious but also completely self-aware about their place in the pop pantheon!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Self-awareness is all! 😉
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeah, I liked the Sarah Dallin quote, too, and for exactly the same reasons as Vinyl Connection. (Nice to see a mention of Flock of Seagulls in there.)
Thanks, and I agree. It is interesting/funny that A Flock Of Seagulls were on Bowie’s radar at the time, and looking back now it’s hard to imagine they were pop contemporaries. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if A Flock had matched or even bettered Bowie’s chart placings in the early ’80s. Am gonna have to look into that…
Brill. Love the Jerry Lee Lewis one.
Sent from my iPhone