Some words from 1966
Q- Do you live far from… wherever we are now?
A.- Well, I guess I’m about four or five miles down the road (laughs).
S-Sounds like you’re Farmer John (laughs).
A- Yes, when I come here, I have to do everything first…. to get everything I need… you know, I have to go to the store and do everything so I don’t have to go back.
Q- Where do you play at home?
A- Anywhere. There’s a room over the garage that I’m fixing now… I think it’s going to be my rehearsal space. You know, sometimes you build a room and at the end you still play in the bathroom, so I don’t know, I hope I like it, but… I have a trumpet on the piano and I have another trumpet in my bedroom. The flute is usually back there because when I’m tired, I lie down and practice and….
Q- Approximately how many hours a day does John Coltrane play?
A-Not too much, right now. I find it necessary when you’re looking for something, you know you really rehearse and rehearse until you get it, I don’t know how many hours, it’s all day.
I did something stupid, I felt dissatisfied with my mouth guard (laughs). I tried to fix it and instead of improving it, I ruined it. It really discouraged me a little bit, you know, I couldn’t blow well because I had damaged that part… so I just had to shorten it (laughs). But at that moment, it was like a discovery, the difference in what I was getting on the sax, as soon as I put that sax in my mouth, I could hear it. I could feel it and I stopped. In fact, the soprano saxophone is one of the reasons I started (laughs) to feel dissatisfied with the tenor saxophone, see? Because the sound of that soprano was much closer to what I hear inside of me.
I didn’t want to admit this damn thing because I always said that the tenor is my saxophone, this is my thing but the soprano, there’s still something there, it’s really beautiful. I really like it.
Q- Some musicians have said that there is a relationship between some of Malcolm X’s ideas and music.
A.- Well, I think music, being an expression of the human heart or the human being itself, expresses exactly what is happening. All human experience at that particular moment is being expressed. In whatever situation we encounter in our lives, when there is something we feel that should be better, we should strive to try and do it better.
So it’s the same socially, musically, politically, in any part of your life. I think music is an instrument. It can create the initial thought pattern that can create a change, as you see, in people’s thinking.
I mean I would like to be a force for the general good. In other words, I know there are negative forces. I know that there are forces that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I would like to be the opposite force. I want to be a force that really is for good.
Q- What were you looking for, John? Do you want cigarettes or…?
A.- No, I’m just sitting because my back is wet and I need to get out of the chair.
Q- I don’t have any more prepared questions to ask you, or improvised (laughs) questions to ask you. I don’t know when I will have the opportunity to sit with you again with a tape recorder (laughs). Do you have anything else to include here?
A- I think you’ve almost covered it, I think… you’ve almost covered it all.