Wisdom Lives in Words

Memorable Quotes by Alan Menken

A villain number is a very valuable thing to have, but if you look at most musicals, one way or another there's an antagonist number.
Alan Menken
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I have the ability to clear the decks and focus on what's happening in the moment. And I get to spend my life doing what I love to do.
Alan Menken
I see my songs and shows almost like a mosaic - part of a bigger picture.
Alan Menken
Howard Ashman was an amazing lyricist and an amazing artist.
Alan Menken
The job, when you write film underscore, is to be ignored. That comes with the gig, no question about it.
Alan Menken
I was always proud of the score to 'Newsies.' The movie is good, but it was under-budgeted.
Alan Menken
There's plenty of examples of films where they're greenlit to move forward, and they want to get X actor. And they don't get X actor, so they go with Y, and it doesn't turn out to be as good of a movie as it should have been.
Alan Menken
I can't get into the underlying psyche of someone like Robin Williams, but he was at that level of fame where he was somewhat self-protective.
Alan Menken
'Snow White' was really hip for its time. Walt Disney was basically using Sigmund Romberg and operetta in the telling of the story, and through animation - that was revolutionary.
Alan Menken
I think the thing that strikes you when you come back to 'The Little Mermaid' after all of these years is the simplicity and innocence. That's in the look of it, and that's in the sound of it.
Alan Menken
I always wanted to be a composer, and I sort of went in to NYU as pre-med because I just thought, 'Well... who actually becomes a composer?'
Alan Menken
Truth be told, of course, what I enjoy most is reinventing myself and doing new projects where I work in new genres, or I get to find what the voice of a particular musical is.
Alan Menken
A lot of what I've done has a rock edge, even going back to 'Little Shop of Horrors.'
Alan Menken
The act of writing a song involves a degree of letting go of yourself, and that's very much being a child.
Alan Menken
I've always juggled a lot of projects because at least half the projects you do get shelved. So you have to do a lot of things in order for things to move forward.
Alan Menken
Most things that I write are in very specific forms. A score will have a shape and profile, and then the more emotional and intimate moments will come.
Alan Menken
There was a jingle house called Lucas/McFaul in New York, and they called me 'the demo king.' I almost never had the big final - in jingles, you have the big final, and then you sing on it, and you make a good deal of money.
Alan Menken
I'm an architect. Before you start pouring the concrete, you build a foundation that is solid so that when you take the scaffolding down, it holds - forever. So that when junior high schools are doing 'Hunchback,' a 12-year-old as Frollo still works on some level.
Alan Menken
Every time I play 'Part of Your World,' a whole part of my life comes back to me. It's just inescapable - it was an innocent time, and a sense of discovery that we were all involved with.
Alan Menken
Most successful musicals need to attach themselves to something bigger than themselves, a concept that will make people feel immediately connected to it.
Alan Menken
The things I tend to do best are the things that are the most overtly emotional, whether it's sentimental or whether it's celebratory or whether it's conflicted.
Alan Menken
I'm not intimidated by embracing a familiar form and what's familiar about it and making it my own. It is, I think, one of my gifts.
Alan Menken
Songs should have an infectious melody and rhythm and, I think, should elicit an emotion of happiness or of celebration or of sadness or of sorrow or of love or laughter, whatever.
Alan Menken
I've been very fortunate as a composer to be involved with projects that have really propelled my scores forward. I'm very proud of it.
Alan Menken
I have a team who I respect immensely, so if they have opinions, I'm interested in hearing them.
Alan Menken
I work in a dramatic context, meaning we write with a lot of character specifics, a lot of story specifics. There's a lot of architecture in our songs.
Alan Menken
Of my Disney material, 'Tangled' is my most pop-oriented.
Alan Menken
I always felt great about what I wrote for 'Newsies,' but 'Newsies' was a total flop.
Alan Menken
My favorite thing is a brand-new project from scratch because you really never know how they're going to come to life. Going back for the third and fourth time to old ones is very gratifying, but it's not my favorite use of my creativity.
Alan Menken
Whether it's animated, whether it's live-action, whether it's Broadway, whether it's television, a musical is a musical is a musical. So, pretty much, you approach the songs in pretty much the same way.
Alan Menken
I have an awards cabinet in my studio where I keep my eight Oscars, my 11 Grammys, my seven Golden Globes, and my Tony Award.
Alan Menken
My first success was 'Little Shop of Horrors,' and I had been working for years on jingles.
Alan Menken
In animation, the directors are part of a huge team of animators who all have opinions, too. It's a much more democratic process. Also, the animation executives oversee things more.
Alan Menken
Songs should have an infectious melody and rhythm.
Alan Menken
You're creating a score that has to have an emotional and story logic to it. You want a dramatic arc. You want all the songs to push story forward. That's the same whether it's for stage or film or television or whatever.
Alan Menken
I've said, for a long time, my favorite part of my career is when I'm creating a new thing where I'm pulling from a new place.
Alan Menken
Music can be witty, but it's not funny unless it's conceptually funny.
Alan Menken
I'm very proud of 'Will the Sun Ever Shine Again.' That was a song written very close to the 9/11 event.
Alan Menken
Live-action films are very much a director's medium, and that director is going to be a very strong voice, a stronger individual voice than you'd have in animation.
Alan Menken
Collaboration is all about rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and helping each other to constantly improve a piece. And, it's also about spurring each other on to doing really great, hard work - it's easier to do it in a collaboration than on your own.
Alan Menken
When I first started working at Disney animation, I can't tell you how many people said to me, 'Oh, man, take a powder.' Nobody takes animated musicals seriously. I swear.
Alan Menken
I'm a very style-driven composer, and I like to give every project its own unique stamp.
Alan Menken
I always wanted to have a villain song for Hades in 'Hercules,' but I couldn't figure out how we would have Hades sing.
Alan Menken
I love 'The Gospel Truth,' the song that opened up 'Hercules.' I thought that song was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed producing that and writing that.
Alan Menken
Movies, there are moments when you're writing a song or demoing, a moment in the recording studio. Musicals much more just eat up your life for a certain period of time.
Alan Menken
Movies, you can insulate yourself more from audience, to a degree, and just look at box office. In theater, the audience is a very dynamic part of your process, and you feel much more exposed.
Alan Menken
Collaboration is being open to each other's ideas and benefiting from each other's perspectives in an open way.
Alan Menken
What brought me to Disney was the new regime, which is now the old regime - came over with Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, Jeffrey Katzenberg - and all these people really wanted to reinvigorate the animated musical, so they came to Howard Ashman and me. That was my entry into Disney.
Alan Menken
Most of my collaborations, certainly post - Howard Ashman but even with Howard, are music first.
Alan Menken
I'm not interested in being the producer of somebody else's song.
Alan Menken
When I write the music for any of my songs, I write as a composer-lyricist in my head.
Alan Menken
For a brief period, I had a gentleman's farm in Pennsylvania, but even then, I kept a place in New York.
Alan Menken
Any musical form that has been around long enough to have cultural resonance beyond just being a cutting edge kind of communication - but, especially, when it begins to reflect on a time and reflect on a culture - is effective in a musical.
Alan Menken
TV is a medium where I've been an outsider for the most part.
Alan Menken
I have lots of personal feelings of my own, but at this stage in my life and career, I'm very much driven by assignment.
Alan Menken
When 'Newsies' first came out, it just crash-landed with a thud; it won a Razzie for worst song of the year, and I felt such embarrassment. Fast-forward, and it's a hit on Broadway, and I win a Tony for the score!
Alan Menken
Part of the job is knowing how to use this medium in the most effective way for the story you're telling, so for me, to pick a genre I want to do is a little harder. I would say it's more about thinking, 'What genre will work for what kind of story?' And then, when all of that comes, I embrace it and run with it.
Alan Menken
Often my best work comes from somebody trying to stretch me in a direction that I wouldn't normally want to go in. It's not something I fight at all.
Alan Menken
When I was younger, I'd get very invested in things. It's a hard lesson to learn, but you have to know that if you want to find gold, you've got to love the process of digging.
Alan Menken
Whatever I gain from writing lyrics, I feel I lose a little bit for the musical aspect by having that lyrical burden on me. But when I'm liberated from worrying about the words, frankly, I feel I'm a better composer.
Alan Menken
My favorite experience, in general, probably was the 'Little Shop' experience, which probably was terrifying, frustrating, and exhilarating and amazing, but because it was the first, that was the one where I watched the show just launch itself for the first time and thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to have a career.'
Alan Menken
A lot of the projects I've been involved with have been my babies, and I'm not going to give my baby to anyone else.
Alan Menken
The Disney tradition - number one, it's a great American classic tradition - and it's something where you don't want to go over certain lines. You want to poke fun, but you don't want to poke fun in a way that's hurtful.
Alan Menken
I'll always work with my collaborator in the room so I have a reaction on a note-by-note basis. I know in my gut when something works for me, and I'll fight for it, but I'm a very easy re-writer.
Alan Menken
For a while now, I try to ignore the hoopla, because if you buy into that, you have to buy into the criticism. All you can do is put your work out there and move on; you just never know what will come.
Alan Menken
I was always a composer since I was a kid, but the BMI Workshop is where the networking really all stems from. So many writers and influences and ways of communicating all sprang out of the time I was a member of that workshop.
Alan Menken
Music is a gestalt. Songs are a life force and they have specific vocabulary to them. You hear a few notes, and they take you into a world of association.
Alan Menken
As a kid, I loved classical music. Composers like Beethoven were like rock stars to me. Then there were the real rock stars: The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan.
Alan Menken
When Peter Schneider first approached me about adapting 'Sister Act' for the stage, it wasn't a slam dunk to say yes.
Alan Menken
There's such a rich trove of unheard Howard Ashman lyrics that we're so blessed to draw from.
Alan Menken
The reality is that people need to be coaxed toward a musical. They need to understand why it's a musical.
Alan Menken
What I look for in a partner is a skill, a voice of their own so I have a strength to go up against. They definitely have to be able to get out of their own way. I can't take somebody being precious about their work.
Alan Menken
Composing easy? I find it easy if - big if - the idea is right, if I have the right collaborator, and if my collaborator is in the room. I like my collaborator to be in the room.
Alan Menken
If you're writing for yourself as an artist, you are always pulling on your own experiences.
Alan Menken
It's writing songs within the structure of telling a story, so it becomes a platform for diverse songwriting, for a writing process that's broader than just figuring out a song. You're also dealing with always pushing the story forward, with casting the voices, with the orchestration, with the arrangements.
Alan Menken