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Ken Burns Quotes and Sayings
Quotes by Ken Burns

I hope you like these Ken Burns quotes from my collection of quotes about life.

I read cover to cover every jazz publication that I
could and in the New York Times,
every single day reading their jazz reviews even though
I didn't put them in the films.
I wanted to know what is going on.
- Ken Burns

I enjoy total creative control right now.
Nobody tells me to make it longer, shorter,
better, sexier, more violent, whatever.
- Ken Burns

I subscribe to William Faulkner's' view that history
is not just about what we were before but who we are now.
- Ken Burns

To say that an artist sells out means that an artist
is making a conscious choice to compromise his music,
to to weaken his music for the sake of commercial gain.
- Ken Burns

 

The stories from 1975 on are not finished and there is no resolve.
I could spend 50 hours on the last 25 years of jazz
and still not do it justice.
- Ken Burns

Like a layer on a pearl, you can't specifically identify the irritant,
the moment of the irritant, but at the end of the day,
you know you have a pearl.
- Ken Burns

You can learn as much about the history from reading
about the present as you can vice versa,
that is learning about the present through history,
which is what I do for a living.
- Ken Burns

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The way I work, the interview never becomes larger
than the person being interviewed.
- Ken Burns

I think my expectations for myself are much more severe and much more direct.
You can't work on a film for six years without being
your own toughest critic.
So you can't really be distracted by the expectations
based on your previous performance.
- Ken Burns

In a sense I've made the same film over and over again.
In all of them I've asked, 'Who are we as Americans?
- Ken Burns

I began to feel that the drama of the truth that is
in the moment and in the past is richer and more interesting
than the drama of Hollywood movies.
So I began looking at documentary films.
- Ken Burns

I think we too often make choices based on the safety of cynicism,
and what we're lead to is a life not fully lived.
Cynicism is fear, and it's worse than fear -
it's active disengagement.
- Ken Burns

We're having a hard time understanding where jazz is going.
What happened to jazz?
- Ken Burns

I am passionately interested in understanding how my country works.
And if you want to know about this thing called the
United States of America you have to know about the Civil War.
- Ken Burns

You know, you meet some people, and do a lot of interviews,
and you come across a Buck O'Neill and you know you
are going to know him for the rest of your life.
The same thing happened with Curt Flood.
- Ken Burns

When you are editing, the final master is Aristotle and his poetics.
You might have a terrific episode, but if people are
falling out because there are just too many elements in it,
you have to begin to get rid of things.
- Ken Burns

I have made all my films for my children with the exception
of my first film because my oldest daughter wasn't
born when I was making the film about the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Ken Burns

I have made a film about jazz that tries to look through
jazz to see what it tells us about who we are as a people.
I think that jazz is a spectacularly accurate model
of democracy and a kind of look into our redemptive future possibilities.
- Ken Burns

History's just been made for sale to an inside deal.
- Ken Burns

You need, as a historian, essential triangulation from
your subject and the only way you get that triangulation is through time.
- Ken Burns

Good history is a question of survival.
Without any past, we will deprive ourselves of the
defining impression of our being.
- Ken Burns

In most films music is brought in at the end,
after the picture is more or less locked,
to amplify the emotions the filmmaker wants you to feel.
- Ken Burns

By its very nature, no one person can ever be the center of jazz.
- Ken Burns

I think the problem with a lot of the fusion music
is that it's extremely predictable,
it's a rock rhythm and the solos all play the same
stuff and they play it over and over again and there's
a certain musical virtuosity involved in it.
- Ken Burns

You don't work on something for six years and be blind
to the myriad of other approaches.
- Ken Burns

Louis Armstrong is quite simply the most important
person in American music.
He is to 20th century music (I did not say jazz) what Einstein is to physics.
- Ken Burns

I grew up certain for a while that I was going to be an anthropologist,
until film turned my head.
- Ken Burns

I record all of my music with authentic instruments
in a studio before we start editing,
doing many, many versions.
The music shapes the film as we edit so it has an organic
relationship to the content.
- Ken Burns

When a documentary filmmaker, working in the style that I do,
suggests that there has been a shooting ratio of 40
hours to every one hour of finished film,
that doesn't mean that the other 39 are bad.
- Ken Burns

I don't use composers.
I research music the way I research the photographs
or the facts in my scripts.
- Ken Burns

One of the things I really like about Ford's films
is how there is always a focus on the way characters live,
and not just the male heroes.
- Ken Burns

The genius of our country is improvisation,
and jazz reflects that.
It's our great contribution to the arts.
- Ken Burns

A jazz beat is a dynamic changing rhythm.
- Ken Burns

I treat the photograph as a work of great complexity
in which you can find drama.
Add to that a careful composition of landscapes,
live photography, the right music and interviews with people,
and it becomes a style.
- Ken Burns

Jazz is a very accurate, curiously accurate accompaniment to 20th century America.
- Ken Burns

Wynton told us that Miles sold out, just wanted to make more money,
just wanted to sell more records.
I don't believe that Miles sold out but I'm not in a position to say.
- Ken Burns

I never, ever want to apologize for a film.
If it's bad I'll say it's my fault.
And that's what I can say so far in all the films that I've done,
that if you don't like it, it's entirely my fault.
- Ken Burns

The flame is not out, but it is flickering.
- Ken Burns

I can understand why some of these drummers and bass
players become cult figures with all of their equipment
and the incredible amount of technique they have.
But there's very little that I think satisfies you
intellectually or emotionally.
- Ken Burns

History is malleable.
A new cache of diaries can shed new light,
and archeological evidence can challenge our popular assumptions.
- Ken Burns

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it,
or who said it, no matter if I have said it,
unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense.
- The Buddha

We Learn...
10% of what we read,
20% of what we hear,
30% of what we see,
50% of what we see and hear,
70% of what we discuss,
80% of what we experience,
95% of what we teach others.
- William Glasser

However many holy words you read, however many you speak,
what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?
- The Buddha

The illiterate are not those who cannot read and write,
but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
- Alvin Toffler

The highest and most beautiful things in life
are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but,
if one will, are to be lived.
- Soren Kierkegaard

To a philosopher all news,
as it is called, is gossip,
and they who edit and read it
are old women over their tea.
- Henry David Thoreau

I once had a rose named after me
and I was very flattered.
But I was not pleased to read
the description in the catalogue:
no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Take time to laugh.
It is the music of the soul.
Take time to think.
It is the source of power.
Take time to play.
It is the source of perpetual youth.
Take time to read.
It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to pray.
It is the greatest power on Earth.
Take time to love and be loved.
It is a God-given privilege.
Take time to be friendly.
It is the road to happiness.
Take time to give.
It is too short a day to be selfish.
Take time to work.
It is the price of success.
- Anonymous

Do you know the difference between education and experience?
Education is when you read the fine print;
experience is what you get when you don't.
- Pete Seeger

I grew up in a very religious family.
I could read the Qu'ran easily at the age of five.
- Akhmad Kadyrov

If you want to read about love and marriage,
you've got to buy two separate books.
- Alan King

What must it be like for a little boy to read that daddy never loved mummy?
- Princess Diana

If you read quickly to get through a poem to what it means,
you have missed the body of the poem.
- M. H. Abrams

Read the best books first,
or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
- Henry David Thoreau

Education...
has produced a vast population able to read but unable
to distinguish what is worth reading.
- G. M. Trevelyan

To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes;
to hear it is to see it with our ears.
- Octavio Paz

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think,
all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read,
and all the friends I want to see.
- John Burroughs

You may not be able to read a doctor's handwriting and prescription,
but you'll notice his bills are neatly typewritten.
- Earl Wilson

My mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday,
so I said I wanted to read poetry with her.
- Guy Johnson

You read a script and its based on 'Reservoir Dogs' and 'Pulp Fiction',
and it goes right in the bin.
- Tim Roth

If I read a book that impresses me,
I have to take myself firmly in hand
before I mix with other people;
otherwise they would think my mind rather queer.
- Anne Frank

Each word bears its weight, so you have to read my poems quite slowly.
- Anne Stevenson

If you can speak what you will never hear,
if you can write what you will never read,
you have done rare things.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hubert Humphrey talks so fast that listening to him
is like trying to read Playboy magazine with your wife turning the pages.
- Barry Goldwater

The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read.
It will be the person who does not know how to learn.
- Alvin Toffler

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper.
Half never voted for President.
One hopes it is the same half.
- Gore Vidal

I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice.
That's what I call a liberal education.
- Tallulah Bankhead

I would rather exercise than read a newspaper.
- Kim Alexis

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.
- Clarence Darrow

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it.
I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint.
What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.
- Henry David Thoreau

The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read With loads of
learned lumber in his head.
- Alexander Pope


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- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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