Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 February 2020

Singing 

see also Music, Opera
  1. Nothing is capable of being well set to music that is not nonsense.
    Joseph Addison 1672–1719 English poet, dramatist, and essayist: in The Spectator no. 1 (21 March 1711)
  2. A bird doesn't sing because he has an answer—he sings because he has a song.
    often wrongly attributed to Maya Angelou
    Joan Walsh Anglund 1926–  American writer and illustrator: A Cup of Sun (1967)
  3. The exercise of singing is delightful to Nature, and good to preserve the health of man. It doth strengthen all parts of the breast, and doth open the pipes.
    William Byrd 1543–1623 English composer: Psalms, Sonnets and Songs (1588)
  4. He was an average guy who could carry a tune.
    Crosby's own suggestion for his epitaph
    Bing Crosby 1903–77 American singer and film actor: in Newsweek 24 October 1977
  5. Every tone [of the songs of the slaves] was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains.
    Frederick Douglass c.1818–95 American former slave and civil rights campaigner: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) ch. 2
  6. Maybe the most that you can expect from a relationship that goes bad is to come out of it with a few good songs.
    Marianne Faithfull 1946–  English singer: Faithfull (1994)
  7. If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.
    Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun 1655–1716 Scottish patriot and anti-Unionist: ‘An Account of a Conversation concerning a Right Regulation of Government for the Good of Mankind. In a Letter to the Marquis of Montrose’ (1704)
  8. A good lyric should be rhymed conversation.
    Ira Gershwin 1896–1983 American songwriter: Philip Furia Ira Gershwin (1966)
  9. A wandering minstrel I—
    A thing of shreds and patches.
    Of ballads, songs and snatches,
    And dreamy lullaby!
     
    W. S. Gilbert 1836–1911 English writer of comic and satirical verse: The Mikado (1885) act 1; see Shakespeare
  10. I only know two tunes. One of them is ‘Yankee Doodle’ and the other isn't.
    Ulysses S. Grant 1822–85 American Unionist general and statesman, 18th President 1869–77: attributed
  11. Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.
    E. Y. (‘Yip’) Harburg 1898–1981 American songwriter: lecture given at the New York YMCA in 1970
  12. He did not see any reason why the devil should have all the good tunes.
    Rowland Hill 1744–1833 English clergyman: E. W. Broome The Rev. Rowland Hill (1881) ch. 7
  13. It's the only song I've ever written where I get goose bumps every time I play it.
    of ‘Candle in the Wind’
    Elton John 1947–  English pop singer and songwriter: in Daily Telegraph 9 September 1997; see John and Taupin, John and Taupin
  14. You think that's noise—you ain't heard nuttin' yet!
    in a café, competing with the din from a neighbouring building site, in 1906; subsequently an aside in the 1927 film The Jazz Singer
    Al Jolson 1886–1950 American singer: Martin Abramson The Real Story of Al Jolson (1950) (later the title of a Jolson song, 1919, in the form ‘You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet’)
  15. Tenors get women by the score.
    James Joyce 1882–1941 Irish novelist: Ulysses (1922)
  16. Sentimentally I am disposed to harmony. But organically I am incapable of a tune.
    Charles Lamb 1775–1834 English writer: Essays of Elia (1823) ‘A Chapter on Ears’
  17. Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
    And I was filled with such delight
    As prisoned birds must find in freedom.
     
    Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967 English poet: ‘Everyone Sang’ (1919)
  18. Nothing can be more disgusting than an oratorio. How absurd to see 500 people fiddling like madmen about Israelites in the Red Sea!
    Sydney Smith 1771–1845 English clergyman and essayist: Hesketh Pearson The Smith of Smiths (1934)