I deliberately try not to cater for the commercial market, so I can't see myself in competition, you know, with second or third generation rock stars.
— Van Morrison
I am about the arrangements and the layers of depth in the music.
My thinking musically has always been more advanced - it is difficult to get it down onto paper sometimes, even now.
Singing is my profession - there is no plan B.
I write songs. Then, I record them. And, later, maybe I perform them on stage. That's what I do. That's my job. Simple.
As a developing musician, skiffle became a platform for me to start playing music.
Hearing the blues changed my life.
I don't think nostalgia has to be negative.
I never bought the commercial thing, at any stage of the game.
I understood jazz, I understood how it worked. That's what I apply to everything.
I'm not a rock singer and I don't want to be a rock singer. I'm not interested. It doesn't seem to get across.
If it's what you do and you can do it, then you do it.
Large audiences did not suit my low-key approach.
The first piece of music that captured my imagination was probably Ray Charles Live At Newport.
There is no black-and-white situation. It's all part of life. Highs, lows, middles.
What you see is what you get.
You can't stay the same. If you're a musician and a singer, you have to change, that's the way it works.
A lot of people who were writing when I came through originally as a singer-songwriter have disappeared.
My records do not require a lot of thought of 'What is this?' and 'What is that?' That would be too contrived for me.
For a long time, I couldn't actually deal with playing concerts; it was a totally alien concept to me, 'cause I was used to playing in clubs and dance halls.
I don't feel comfortable doing interviews. My profession is music, and writing songs. That's what I do. I like to do it, but I hate to talk about it.
I just need somewhere to dump all my negativity.
Even today, skiffle is a defining part of my music. If I get the opportunity to just have a jam, skiffle is what I love to play.
I always record far more than I can use. There's probably twice as much recorded as comes out.
I educated myself. To me, school was boring.
I never paid attention to what was contemporary or what was commercial, it didn't mean anything to me.
I went back to Belfast and started a club, the Maritime. No one had thought about doing a blues club, so I was the first.
I'm very lucky, I'm happy with life because my experiences led me to do what I had to do. I don't have any regrets whatsoever.
If you're a pop singer, you don't need to evolve. You just get a set together, have some hit songs and play them over and over.
My ambition when I started out was to play two or three gigs a week. And that's what I'm doing.
The future is keeping you out of the present time.
There's always got to be a struggle. What else is there? That's what life is made of. I don't know anything else. If there is, tell me about it.
When I started studying tenor saxophone as a kid in Belfast, I did so with a guy named George Cassidy, who was also a big inspiration.
You take stuff from different places, and sometimes you stick a line in because it rhymes, not because it makes sense.
I think when you get past your second album, it all becomes something of a routine. So you have to struggle against that, find a way of making what you do sound fresh and new each time.
I put out records to this day that are not necessarily in a sequence of anything. Some could be written a while back, some not. There is no set pattern.
You learn to read the audiences after a while, and there are all different kinds of gigs.
Being famous was extremely disappointing for me. When I became famous it was a complete drag and it is still a complete drag.
A famous person to themselves, they don't get up in the morning and think, I'm famous. I'm not famous to me. Famous is a perception.
Every performance is different. That's the beauty of it.
I do see value in music criticism. Most of the criticism I have received over the years has been very good.
I learnt from Armstrong on the early recordings that you never sang a song the same way twice.
I think Paul McGuinness and U2 created the Irish music industry. It certainly wasn't there before that.
I'd love to live in Ireland but I'd like to live as me, not what someone thinks I am. People don't understand - I lived there before I was famous.
I've never felt like I was born with a silver spoon at all, although I've felt like howling at the moon a lot of times!
It was really strange for me when I started to play concerts in America where the audiences were all sitting down.
Skiffle was a name that was attached to what was, in essence, American folk music with a beat.
The point of jazz is, you do something and then you go on.
These days politics, religion, media seem to get all mixed up. Television became the new religion a long time back and the media has taken over.
When I started you were more in touch with the people you were playing to. There wasn't the distance or the separation that there is now.