The 20 Best Taj Mahal Quotes

Taj Mahal is the torch-bearing quintessential blues artist. The 81-year-old New York-born musician is one of the few blues players today who remain linked to the genre’s past. Spanning 50 years, Mahal’s multi-Grammy Award-winning career is truly—like the mausoleum he gets his name from—something to behold.

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But with so much experience and history to his name, fans may wonder what Mahal has to say about life and art, music, the blues, love, and the world at large. Here are the 20 best Taj Mahal quotes.

[RELATED: Taj Mahal Shares His Deep Passion For Music: “I’ve Never Known Life and Breathing Without Music”]

1. “Particularly with the blues, it’s not just about bad times. It’s about the healing spirit.”

2. “As a youngster, my parents made me aware that all that was from the African Diaspora belonged to me. So I came in with Caribbean music, African music, Latin music, gospel music, and blues.”

3. “As I got more involved in music, one of the things that made me excited, from the time I was a child, was that clear link between our ancestors and the sounds we hear today.”

4. “I wanted to keep pushing the musical ideas I had about jazz, music from Africa and the Caribbean.”

5. “If what you’re talking about is seeing someone perform, then I’ll have to say that in the rhythm-and-blues side of things, seein’ Otis Redding live was it, you know?”

6. “As a kid, I always felt connected to Africa; it was something I was very proud of.”

7. “It’s very interesting, the dynamics of popularity. When you do something all the time, you don’t worry about whether it’s trendy or not.”

8. “What you have to understand is that blues… it’s in a line from the oldest forms of African music. If you’re playing it like it’s an echo of the past, it would be a lot less exciting, but this music lives today.”

9. “My parents grew up during the Harlem Renaissance.”

10. “I’m perceived as someone who goes out and searches for new music, but it was all present in my household.”

11. “The blues is played everywhere. There’s no place I’ve been where they don’t have blues or aren’t interested in blues.”

12. “Naw, it—it never stops, man… You gotta be doing what you’re supposed to be doing—whenever, however, it’s coming down, you know. If you’re getting your butt kicked—you still gotta do what you gotta be doing.”

13. “When I was a kid, there was so much talent outside of recorded music.”

14. “It’s just like heirloom tomatoes; this is heirloom music. We used to have all kinds of diversity in our poultry, in our vegetables, in our fruits, and slowly but surely the monoculture beast comes in. I’m saying that’s not a good idea. And if it means that I gotta do it on my own, then I do it on my own.”

15. “More and more people are finally realizing that in the heart of America, there’s all this incredible music that wasn’t widely heard before because it wasn’t in the interest of those who feel they have to control the taste of the wider public.”

16. “Music is like the soul of the planet.”

17. “My mother was American, and my father was from the Caribbean, and there was a big open door into the world of humanity and music.”

18. “I don’t care if it’s somebody else’s song. Most of the time, you’ll find that I’ll put my own stamp on it. But I started writing more because, you know, it’s easy to regurgitate what somebody else is doing, but it’s exciting to be able to come up with your own writing.”

19. “As a solo performer, it’s total involvement. What I do is to break down the wall between audience and performer.”

20. “The one thing I’ve always demanded of the records I’ve made is that they be danceable.”

Photo by Derek White/Getty Images for the Otis Redding Foundation

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