Richie Havens Quotes

  1. The direction for my music is heaven, of course. We gear all things to the realm of heaven – which is the mind, the organized mind.
  2. Though it’s frequently portrayed as this crazy, unbridled festival of rain-soaked, stoned hippies dancing in the mud, Woodstock was obviously much more than that – or we wouldn’t still be talking about it in 2009. People of all ages and colors came together in the fields of Max Yasgur’s farm.
  3. My mother’s family came from the British West Indies. And my father’s family came from, well, my father’s father came from the Montana/South Dakota area. They were Blackfoot Indian.
  4. I started out by myself, but it eventually turned into a trio by the mid-’60s – a conga drum and another guitarist. And that’s been mostly what I’ve worked with most of the time.
  5. I must have played every college and university at least three times, and that goes for most of the clubs. I’d be on the road six days a week, go home and change bags, and then be gone for another six days.
  6. Live Aid was a baby Woodstock, a child of Woodstock, which I call Globalstock.
  7. I eat once a day if I remember, and I try never to go to sleep.
  8. I don’t get sick. I can’t afford to get sick.
  9. I haven’t seen my face since I started growing my beard, which was when I was a teenager, almost; I never shaved. So I don’t really know what I look like.
  10. I remember the first time I was booked into a jazz club. I was scared to death. I’m not a jazz artist. So I got to the club and spotted this big poster saying, ‘Richie Havens, folk jazz artist.’ Then I’d go to a rock club and I’m billed as a ‘folk rock performer’ and in the blues clubs I’d be a ‘folk blues entertainer.’
  11. I opened the Woodstock Festival even though I was supposed to be fifth. I said, ‘What am I doing here? No, no, not me, not first!’ I had to go on stage because there was no one else to go on first – the concert was already two-and-a-half hours late.
  12. I saw the Village as a place you could escape to, to express yourself. When I first went there, I wrote and performed poetry. Then I drew portraits for a couple of years. It took a while before I thought about picking up a guitar.
  13. I believe we have a double in every country. There’s something about that that is probably a commonness that we don’t make note of. That maybe there’s only a cast for so many faces, and we live everywhere.
  14. We had been reading about these beatniks who hung out or lived in Greenwich Village, and we wanted to find out what a ‘beatnik’ was, and so a friend and I went right to the source. What we learned, of course, was that beatniks were mostly artists.
  15. I believe I inherited my sense of music from my father. My father was an ear piano player; he could just hear something and play it.
  16. Music is the major form of communication. It’s the commonest vibration, the people’s news broadcast, especially for kids.
  17. Woodstock happened in August 1969, long before the Internet and mobile phones made it possible to communicate instantly with anyone, anywhere. It was a time when we weren’t able to witness world events or the horrors of war live on 24-hour news channels.
  18. Everything I want to do, and to accomplish, is on the other side of the universe. That’s peace of mind, energy, freedom. And I’m making myself ready to go, joyfully and willingly. I think I’m ready to be everybody’s friend, and to do anything for anybody. It’s heavy.
  19. You can’t even kill yourself if it isn’t your time to go. People have no control whatsoever over what happens to them, and they are beginning to realize this. The future lies in the time of living. Your doing something will get you into tomorrow, if you want to call it tomorrow. If you want to make those distinctions at all.
  20. Woodstock was both a peaceful protest and a global celebration.
  21. Many times, people have come up to me after singing some songs, and they’d say, ‘Richie, do you know what you did?’ And I’d say, ‘What?’ And they’d go, ‘I wrote these songs down for you to sing, and you sang them all in a row.’ But that’s the kind of communication that happens, you know.
  22. I came up in Brooklyn singing doo-wop music from the time I was 13 to the time I was 20. That music served a purpose of keeping a lot of people out of trouble, and also it was a passport from one neighborhood to another.
  23. My right wrist is connected to the left foot. You know, if the left foot doesn’t work, the right wrist doesn’t work, and that’s really the truth.
  24. I really sing songs that move me. I’m not in show business. I’m in the communications business. That’s what it’s for me.
  25. I actually grew up with people from all over the world. There wasn’t enough of a difference to feel different from anybody else. Their grandmother hollered at me like my grandmother hollered at all the kids when anybody did anything wrong. And their parents did the same thing.

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