Quotes Uncovered: Songs and Dancing

Quotes Uncovered

75 ThumbnailHere are more quote authors and origins Shapiro’s tracked down recently.

A while back, I invited readers to submit quotations for which they wanted me to try to trace the origins, using The Yale Book of Quotations and more recent researches by me. Hundreds of people have responded via comments or e-mails. I am responding as best I can, a few per week.

Gareth Chantler asked:

“Love as if you’ll die tomorrow, dream as if you’ll live forever, dance as if nobody’s watching.” I’ve heard hundreds of variations on these dumb quotes and I’ve seen attributions from Gandhi to Mother Teresa, which all seem ridiculous. Can the YBQ bring clarity to this situation?

The Yale Book of Quotations has the following:

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money,
Love like you’ll never get hurt.
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’.

Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh, “Come from the Heart” (song, 1987).

Josh asked:

Any thoughts on: “I care not who writes the laws of a people if you let me write their songs.” Snopes suggests attributing it or some variant to Plato or Napoleon, but offers no evidence.

Snopes is usually very reliable, so I’m surprised if that’s all that was said there. The YBQ has:

“If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.” Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, “An Account of a Conversation Concerning a Right Regulation of Government for the Good of Mankind” (1704).

Michael asked:

“What we fear is not that we may be weak but that we may be incredibly strong.” It was said by Lennox Lewis but he read it out like he was quoting someone.

According to The YBQ,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are indispensable. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” Appears in Marianne Williamson‘s A Return to Love (1992). This is frequently misattributed to Nelson Mandela.

Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.



View All Comments »
  1. Joe T says:

    A version of the first quote that I remember hearing goes “dance like nobody’s watching, work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt.”

    A friend of mine rearranged it and used it on his online dating profile: “Dance like you’ve never been hurt. Work like no one is watching. Love like you don’t need the money.” 

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  2. Telly says:

    “People get the government they deserve.”

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. randy says:

    just curious — do speechWRITERS get attribution (e.g., “our finest hour” by churchill, “ask not…” JFK, “tear down this wall”, “city on the hill” et. al. were all attributed to the leaders who said them, right?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  4. jblog says:

    I’ve heard this one attributed to both Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin:

    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. Jenn says:

    How about this one

    “I heard people say that to understand is to forgive, but they are wrong to understand is to understand”

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. Devika says:

    With regards to the Andrew Fletcher quote above, I noticed that the person who asked the question stated that Snopes could not identify the origins. I think it should be clarified that the quote in question was posed on the Snopes message board by a user and the answers given were also by other users. It was not a formal entry from the site’s editors (the actual entries are indeed very well-researched).

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. Arnold D'Souza says:

    Good question by #3 (Randy)… And the answer I’m afraid to say is “No!”

    It’s a pity.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  8. Ed says:

    The Marianne Williamson quote from A Return to Love begins, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.” Not “indispensable”.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0