There’s no such thing as not playing. Music has rests in it. So you’re on a rest right now, and the music will begin shortly.

Tom Waits. Via austinkleon. Cf. Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk:

We have to start the concert at 8:00 and we have to stop sometime because the halls are rented for a certain time but the music goes on in your mind before and after you play. It’s really just an agreement you make to stop at a certain time. On record, it goes for 40 minutes because an album has these dimensions. It’s just an agreement. But really the music goes on.

The pretender: Dana Spiotta’s persuasive performances—By Jonathan Dee (Harper’s Magazine)

Part of the fascination rock stars, even those of the wannabe variety, hold for fiction writers must have to do with the degrees of mediation in an artist’s relationship to his or her audience. What would it be like to jump the gap between oneself and the presentation of one’s own art? In live performance the feedback is instant, for better or worse, and the artist’s presence as a conduit for his or her work is a precondition for that work’s existence.

I’ve tagged a lot of things with performance/audience.

The pretender: Dana Spiotta’s persuasive performances—By Jonathan Dee (Harper’s Magazine)

The difference is between sitting around listening to music and partying to music. You can’t just be walking back and forth on stage, otherwise it could just be a seminar.

Lil Scrappy on crunk, quoted in Dirty South. You could say that the music happens between fans and stars rather than between listeners and musicians. And like Little Steven says, performance relies on a working-class energy. And then there’s Elijah Wald’s observation that critics tend to be people that collect and discuss music, rather than dance to it.

Social occasions can work a certain magic. You see your friends in costumes and onstage as it were, and suddenly they turn from ordinarily familiar to strangely familiar: They achieve sudden glory.

Norm MacDonald Interview | The A.V. Club

It’s a very odd thing with Hollywood, where you do stand-up, you’re good at it, then they go, “How would you like to be a horrible actor?” Then you say, “All right, that sounds good. I’ll do that.” So I’m fucking excited about not having to pretend to know what I’m doing with acting.


I love abandoning shit, because I don’t like doing shit over and over and over. I’ve thrown so many jokes away. First of all, I’m not a good enough performer to pretend that “I just thought of this,” that kind of shit. It’s saying the same word over and over again, it loses its fucking meaning. Also, generally I don’t like traveling around saying the exact same thing. I don’t think that’s a very good thing to do with your life.

And also:

I don’t really care about success or money or shit. I could give a fuck. I hate fame. I hate being recognized, because I don’t know how to talk to people. I see Sandler, man, and I’m like fuck, goddamn, I don’t know how he does it, those people are fucking everywhere he walks. If you’re walking with him, all you hear behind is people whispering. It’s almost like being fucking stoned, or a paranoid schizophrenic or something, where you think people are talking about you, but they actually are talking about you. It’s fucking surreal.

Norm MacDonald Interview | The A.V. Club

What you want to do is build the people up. You start ‘em off and you give them this first half, and their feet, and next thing they got their heads goin’, and the next thing they got their mouths open and they’re yellin’ and they’re screamin’. It’s a great feeling when you can have your audience get involved with you […] where everyone can jump in and have a real good time. “What’d I Say” is my last song onstage. When I do “What’d I Say,” you don’t have to worry about it — that’s the end of me. There ain’t no encore, no nothin’. I’m finished!


“I am not funny. My writers were funny. My directors were funny. The situations were funny…What I am is brave. I have never been scared. Not when I did movies, certainly not when I was a model, and not when I did I Love Lucy.”

Lucille Ball (Rolling Stone, June 23, 1983) (photo by Walt Sanders for LIFE, 1943, click to enlarge)