"I didn't know the term 'folk music' until I came to New York. 'Folk music' is just a name. I sing a lot of old jazz songs, sentimental cowboy songs, top forty hit parade stuff. People have to name it something so they call folk music. Now there are very few people singing that way. There's been no one around to cut records like the old Leadbelly, Houston and Guthrie. There are young people singing like that, but they're being held back by commercial singers. People who run radio programs don't play the ones singing like that. Folk music is being taken over by people who don't sing that way. It's all right, but to call it folk music ..."
"I don't want to make a lot of money, I want to get along. The more people I reach, and have the chance to sing the kind of music I sing, ... But people have to be ready, They have to see me once already, People often say the first time they hear me, this isn't folk music. My songs aren't easy to listen to.
"The concert isn't going to be a planned concert. I can offer songs that tell something of this America. No foreign songs. The songs of the land that aren't offered over TV or radio and very few records. Offering a chance to hear them."
"I won't join a group. Groups are easy to be in. I've always learned the hard way. I will, now, too. When you fail in a group you can blame each other. When you fail alone, you yourself fail."
"I play a lot of cards. Believe in 'dead man's hand' - the aces and eights. It's time to cash in when you get aces and eights, dead man's hand. Sounds illogical? The other things I believe in are logical. Like the length of my hair. The less hair on the head, the more hair inside. Wear a crewcut and you have all that hair cluttering around your brain. I let my hair grow long to be wise and free to think ... Or religion. Got no religion. Tried a bunch of different religions. The churches are divided. Can't make up their minds, and neither can I. Never saw a god; can't say until I see one."
"I've been with Jack Elliot ... Jack hasn't taught me any songs. Jack doesn't know that many songs. He's had a lot of chances."
From an interview conducted by Izzy Young at his Folklore Center in New York, October 20 & 23, 1961. Parts of this interview appear Carnegie Recital Hall Programme November 4. The parts above appear in Scadoto's biography.