45+ Charlie Parker Quotes

Shirin Biswas
Mar 15, 2023 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Feb 28, 2023
Edited by Deeksha Kamath
Fact-checked by Rakesh Pillai
Old Postage stamp of Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker was a jazz and swing artist known for his love of music.

He played each chord with passion, which earned him a humongous fanbase. Some of his famous works include 'Bird Of Paradise' and 'Ornithology'.

His book, 'Acting Is A Job: Real Life Lessons About Acting Business' imparts wisdom. Charlie Parker was also famous for being friends with Jay McShann and also going on tours with him. Parker's words and famous quotes give us a glimpse into his political position, his wisdom, life, friends, the acting business, and love.

Best Charlie Parker Quotes

Parker had shared some valuable insights into what life is and what life can be. Here are some examples.

"Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors - the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people."

"Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless."

"What is man without the beasts? For if all the beast were gone, man would die of a great loneliness of the spirit."

"If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?"

"All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man... the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports."

"Youth is impulsive."

"My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain."

"Day and night cannot dwell together."

"Humans merely share the earth. We can only protect the land, not own it."

"Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better."

"To us, the ashes of our ancestors are sacred, and their resting place is hallowed ground."

"There is no death, only a change of worlds."

"When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been."

"Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons."

"Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

Charlie Parker Quotes On Music

Here is what Parker had to say about learning your instruments and being good at them.

“You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” - 'Acting Is A Job: Real Life Lessons About The Acting Business' (2006)

“Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn.”

"They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art."

"I realized by using the high notes of the chords as a melodic line and by the right harmonic progression, I could play what I heard inside me. That's when I was born."

Charlie Parker Quotes On Harmony

Here are some Charlie Parker quotes that you must read:

"Don't be afraid; just play the music."

"Don't play the saxophone. Let it play you."

"Hear with your eyes, see with your ears."

Quotes About Charlie Parker

Parker had managed to touch many lives with his saxophone skills and talent in music. Here are some things that his listeners had to say.

"I admire mold-breakers. People who bust free from traditional thinking change the game completely. Steve Jobs. Charlie Parker. The Groupon guys. Seth Godin. People who dare to be different and end up creating something truly different and remarkable." - Josh Linkner

"As a very small girl, I listened to Charlie Parker and loved him and Max Roach and people like that." - Aretha Franklin

"Life has many changes. Tomorrow it may rain, and it's supposed to be sunshine 'cause it's summertime. But God's got a funny soul; he plays like Charlie Parker." - Charles Mingus

"If you started in New York, you were dealing with the biggest guys in the world. You're dealing with Charlie Parker and all the big bands and everything. We got more experience working in Seattle." - Quincy Jones

"Nothing surpasses my performances with small bands, especially with Charlie Parker. A small band doesn't forestall creativity." - Dizzy Gillespie

"It was my band. I organized the band, and Dizzy was in the band. Dizzy was the first musical director with the band. Charlie Parker was in the band. But, no, no, that was my band." - Billy Eckstine

"A portrait of the young Charlie Parker with a degree of vivid detail never before approached. . . [Kansas City Lightning is] a deft, virtuosic panorama of early jazz. . . This is a mind-opening, and mind-filling, book." - Tom Piazza

"What does New York sound like? For me, the Charlie Parker at the Royal Roost recordings on the Savoy label are the total embodiment of the New York music experience." - Henry Rollins

"I listen to tons of hard rock and metal, like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, etc., but I also listen to Beethoven and Mozart, to Discharge and the Bad Brains, and to Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. So I think there's merit to both the melodic punk and to the hardcore stuff too." - Dave Smalley

"Charlie Parker was the greatest individual musician that ever lived. Every instrument in the band tried to copy Charlie Parker, and in the history of jazz, there had never been one man who influenced all the instruments." - Gary Giddins

"I went up to his [Hank Jones'] house, and there were four guys there: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Max Roach. Not a bad place to be. Scared shitless, but a nice place to be on my second day in New York." - Ray Brown

"Some musicians, man, you hear the note almost before they hit it. Jimi, Coltrane, and Charlie Parker were like that." - Carlos Santana

"Sometimes you think, 'Okay, well I'm going to play my horn, and I'm going to study Charlie 'Bird' Parker solos or [John Coltrain] or whatever.' But as [Phil Wood] said to me, 'Man, Bird listened to everything.'." - Jon Gordon

"In those days before hearing Charlie Parker and Dizzy, and before learning of the so-called bebop era--by the way, I have some thoughts about that word, 'bebop'--my first jazz hero ever, jazz improviser hero was Lester Young. I was a big 'Lester Young-oholic,' and all of my buddies were Lester Young-oholics.

We'd get together and dissect, analyze, discuss, and listen to Lester Young's solos for hours and hours and hours. He was our god." - J. J. Johnson

"In all honesty, I think I just played what I felt was right for me. And I think I would have done the same thing, even if I'd been born later when Charlie Parker was influencing everybody. The truth is, I never gave it much thought. I just played what I had to play." - Benny Carter

"There was not a lot of rock n roll in the house. Our parents didn't think it was very groovy, and I tend to agree with them. If you grew up with Charlie Parker, Bill Haley wasn't very hip." - Elvis Costello

"Dizzy, Duke, and Charlie Parker were the greatest jazz legends of all time." - Milt Jackson

"It's in my stars to invent; I was born on Madame Curie's birthday. I have this need for originals, for innovation. That's why I like Charlie Parker." - Joni Mitchell

"When I did 'Bird', it was a surprise to some people, first because I wasn't in it and second because most of the films I'd been doing were cop movies or westerns or adventure films, so to be doing one about Charlie Parker, who was a great influence on American music, was a great thrill for me."

- Clint Eastwood

"When I heard Charlie Parker the first time on a record, it had seemed like an old, scratchy kind of record, and I didn't get it." - Jon Gordon

"When [Charlie Parker] saw the young guys, especially the ones that were scuffling... "Did you eat today?" And if you hadn't eaten, he'd take you and buy you some lunch." - Jon Gordon

"People with talent are not interested in showing off behind another person. They're more interested in the music. [Charlie Parker] was playing with me.

That's the difference between the kind of musician I like to work with and singing with a musician who thinks he has to accompany me. That is so annoying I cannot tell you." - Helen Merrill

"I didn't know Charlie Parker well, but I spent some time with him, and he was articulate and well-spoken with a lot of curiosity about music and the world." - Benny Carter

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You







See All

Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Rakesh Pillai

Bachelor of Arts

Rakesh Pillai picture

Rakesh PillaiBachelor of Arts

Rakesh is a passionate and motivated team player with a thirst for knowledge. He is proficient in both English and Malayalam and has experience working with online platforms such as Gizmo Posts and Morning Picker, as well as websites providing entertainment and current affairs information. In his free time, he enjoys drawing and reading. He has completed his Bachelors from Guru Nanak Khalsa College, Matunga.

Read full bio >