53 Quotes about Life and Music by Louis Armstrong

Our fathers and grandfathers experienced life from a different and unique perspective. In comparison to what we learn today, their wisdom and knowledge was much more profound. One such personality that lived during the 20th century was Louis Armstrong. Also known as “Satchmo”, “Satch” and “Pops” he is revered as one of the most iconic trumpeters and vocalists from that era.

Over his life, Louis Armstrong didn’t just entice people and their souls through his music but also left many pearls of wisdom for the generations to come in terms of his quotes. His comparisons of music with life and overall learnings are inspiring as well as thought-provoking. If you’re searching for something to lift up the spirits, you’re in the right place.

Here are some of the deepest and most thoughtful quotes from Louis Armstrong:

1.”If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”
2.”Man, all music is folk music. You ain’t never heard no horse sing a song, have you?”

3.”If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it.”
4.“If ya ain’t got it in ya, ya can’t blow it out.”
5.”Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them.”
6.”There are two kinds of music, the good, and the bad. I play the good kind.”
7.”You blows who you is.”
8.”There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell them.”
9.”We all do ‘do, re, mi,’ but you have got to find the other notes yourself.”
10.”The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on a hot night or something said long ago.”
11.“My whole life, my whole soul, my whole spirit is to blow that horn…”
12.“Seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is: see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby – love. That’s the secret.”
13.”What we play is life.”

Louis Armstrong quotes

14.“Music is life itself. What would this world be without good music? No matter what kind it is.”
15.“I never want to be anything more than I am; what I don’t have, I don’t need.”
16.“We never did try to get together and to show the younger Negroes such as myself, to try and even to show that he has ambitions – and with just a little encouragement, I could have really done something worthwhile. But instead, we did nothing but let the young upstarts know that they were young and simple, and that was that.”
17.“All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.”
18.“I was determined to play my horn against all odds, and I had to sacrifice a whole lot of pleasure to do so.”
19.“We all do ‘do, re, mi’ but you have got to find the other notes yourself.”
20.“When the other kids started calling me nicknames, I knew everything was all right. I have a pretty big mouth, so they hit on that and began calling me Gatemouth or Satchelmouth, and that Satchelmouth has stuck to me all my life, except that now it’s been made into ‘Satchmo’.”
21.“Very few of the men whose names have become great in the early pioneering of jazz and of swing were trained in music at all. They were born musicians: they felt their music and played by ear and memory. That was the way it was with the great Dixieland Five.”
Louis Armstrong quotes

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22.“I do believe that my whole success goes back to that time I was arrested as a wayward boy at the age of thirteen. Because then I had to quit running around and began to learn something. Most of all, I began to learn music.”
23.“I warm up at home. I hit the stage, I’m ready, whether it’s rehearsal or anything.”
24.“When I play, maybe ‘Back o’ Town Blues,’ I’m thinking about one of the old, low-down moments – when maybe your woman didn’t treat you right. That’s a hell of a moment when a woman tell you, ‘I got another mule in my stall.’
25.“Well, I tell you… the first chorus, I plays the melody. The second chorus, I plays the melody round the melody, and the third chorus, I routines.”
26.“I gathered that those two Big-shot Boys, Joe + Fletcher, just was afraid to let me sing, thinking maybe I’d sort of ruin their reputations with their musical public. They not knowing that I had been singing all of my life. In churches, etc. I had one of the finest All Boys Quartets that ever walked the streets of New Orleans.”
27.“And I think to myself what a wonderful world. Oh, yeah….”

Louis Armstrong quotes
28.“Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine, I look right into the heart of gold old New Orleans. It has given me something to live for.”
29.“Don’t do nothing halfway, else you find yourself dropping more than can be picked up.”
30.“Some of you young folks been saying to me, ‘Hey Pops, what you mean what a wonderful world? How about all them wars all over the place? You call them wonderful? And how about hunger and pollution? They ain’t so wonderful either.’ But how about listening to old Pops for a minute. It seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad, but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby, love. That’s the secret. Yeah. If lots more of us loved each other, we’d solve lots more problems. And man, this world would be a gasser.”
31.“A lotta cats copy the Mona Lisa, but people still line up to see the original.”
32.“Making money ain’t nothing exciting to me. You might be able to buy a little better booze than the wino on the corner. But you get sick just like the next cat and when you die you’re just as graveyard dead as he is.”
33.“I got a simple rule about everybody. If you don’t treat me right – shame on you.”
34.“To jazz, or not to jazz, there is no question!”
35.“Unless you know what it is I ain’t never going to be able to explain it to you.”
36.“Jazz is played from the heart. You can even live by it. Always love it.”
37.“There is no such thing as ‘on the way out’ as long as you are still doing something interesting and good; you’re in the business because you’re breathing”
38.“Each man has his own music bubbling up inside him.”
39.“I’ll bet right now most of the youngsters and hot club fans who hear the name Storyville hasn’t the least idea that it consisted of some of the biggest prostitutes in the world … Standing in their doorways nightly in their fine and beautiful negligees — faintly calling to the boys as they passed their cribs.”
40.“I don’t let my mouth say nothin’ my head can’t stand….”
41.“You got to love to be able to play”
42.“There’s only two ways to sum up music; either it’s good or it’s bad. If it’s good you don’t mess about it, you just enjoy it.”
43.“Not too slow, not too fast. Kind of like half-fast.”
44.“The best I can do is stay happy.”
45.“There are Two Secrets to Success: 1. Don’t tell ANYONE Everything you know 2.If you have to ask what Jazz is, you’ll never know.”
46.“You either have it or you don’t. You play your horn just like you sing a song or a hymn. If it’s in your heart, you express yourself in the tune.”
47.“It makes you feel good, man, makes you forget all the bad things that happen to a Negro. It makes you feel wanted, and when you’re with another tea smoker, it makes you feel a special kinship.”
48.“My life has always been my music, it’s always come first, but the music ain’t worth nothing if you can’t lay it on the public. The main thing is to live for that audience, ’cause what you’re there for is to please the people.”
49.“There’s some folks, that, if they don’t know, you can’t tell ’em.”
50.“You’ve got to be good or as bad as the devil.”
51.“When you’re dead, you’re done.”
52.“Even If I have two three days off, you still have to blow that horn. You have to keep up those chops… I have to warm up everyday for at least an hour.”
53.“It’s America’s classical music … this becomes our tradition … the bottom line of any country in the world is what did we contribute to the world? … we contributed Louis Armstrong”

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Louis Armstrong – What a wonderful world (1967)

Here is a beautiful tune from Louis Armstrong that he performed in front of a live audience, enthralling the people seated in front of him. It is definitely something to feast your ears upon.



Louis Armstrong rose to prominence at a time when people with darker skin tones were discriminated against. He managed to transcend the odds and leave a mark. He continues to do so with this words that carry resounding meaning to people of all ages. These pearls of wisdom serve as a symbol of his knowledge and the impact that he has truly left on the world, for the generations to follow.

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