Great musicians create the soundtracks of our lives. They define movements and redefine genres. They are so uniquely themselves that it can be hard for an aspiring musician to see how to get to their level.

You might wonder if your dedication is anything similar to what they went through. How long did it take for them to get their first show? Their first single? What motivated them? What fueled their passion? Where and who do they draw genius from?

We look up to great musicians for any number of reasons – music is as varied as the people who create it. Ultimately, we see something in them that we want to replicate. Their passion, their sound, their vibe. It gets you into your flow – to follow your own passion and produce the music that you love.

Here, we’ve put together some quotes so you can find inspiration from the musicians themselves.

James Brown

“Aretha and Otis and Wilson Pickett were out there and getting big. I was still called a soul singer… I still call myself that but musically I had already gone off in a different direction. I had discovered that my strength was not in the horns, it was in the rhythm.”

Patti Smith

When I was younger, I felt it was my duty to wake people up. I thought poetry was asleep. I thought rock ‘n’ roll was asleep.”

Patti Smith quote

Brian Ritchie, The Violent Femmes

“Gordon never really cared about being famous…the key to longevity is to doggedly pursue your ideas to their conclusion.”

 

The biggest lesson we can take away from these three musicians? Find your strengths. Don’t listen to what others are telling you if you disagree. Go your own way and watch the music happen.

Johnny Cash

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

(in Cash: The Autobiography)

Johnny Cash quote

Mary J. Blige

“Everything is scary if you look at it. So you just got to live it.”

Mary J. Blige quote

Jim Morrison

“I didn’t think about it. It was just there. I never did any singing. I never even conceived it… Those first five or six songs I wrote, I was just taking notes at a fantastic rock concert that was going on inside my head. And once I had written the songs, I had to sing them.”

(in an interview with Rolling Stone)

Tom Waits

The creative process is imagination, memories, nightmares and dismantling certain aspects of this world and putting them back together in the dark.”

 

What can we learn from Johnny Cash, Mary J. Blige, and others? Don’t be afraid. Don’t stop at failure. Keep pushing forward and lean on your passion. In the end, it will carry you through to amazing things.

 

As you practice, fail, change methods, and grow as a musician, remember that no one else is uniquely you. It will take work and there will be setbacks, but no one else is inspired by the same things or can create what you will. If you don’t trust us, take it from someone who shaped generations:

All I can do is be me, whoever that is.”

Bob Dylan

What do you do to find motivation? Share in the comments!

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