Cass Elliot

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Our job as entertainers is to ease some pain. So to begin with, you have to know what and where the pain is.

Cass Elliot (19 September 194129 July 1974) was an American singer who became famous as "Mama" Cass in The Mamas & the Papas; born Ellen Naomi Cohen

Quotes[edit]

So many people in show business go into politics, and I used to say "What the heck do they know about it?" But when you travel around, you really do get to feel — not to be cliche — the pulse of the country and what people want...
  • My advice is precisely the advice my mother gave me. If you believe you have talent, the next thing you must have is determination. If you keep working, keep striving, and try always to move forward a little bit with every job you do, you’ll eventually make it. And I believe that!
    • As quoted in "Twenty Questions for Mama Cass" by Frederick Todd in American Girl magazine (June 1970)
  • I think I would like to be a Senator or something in twenty years. I don't think I really know enough yet. I'm just 30 now and I wouldn't even be eligible to run for office for another five years. But I have a lot of feelings about things. I know the way I would like to see things for this country and in my travels, when I talk to people, everybody wants pretty much the same thing: peace, enough jobs, no poverty and good education. And I've learned a lot. It's funny. So many people in show business go into politics, and I used to say "What the heck do they know about it?" But when you travel around, you really do get to feel — not to be cliche — the pulse of the country and what people want. I'm concerned and it's not good to be unconcerned and just sit there.
  • Our job as entertainers is to ease some pain. So to begin with, you have to know what and where the pain is. I've never campaigned before and I wanted to be damn sure before putting my name behind anyone. I wrote to all the campaign officers to find out what they were. My issue is that it's all very well to sit back and complain but when it's your country you have a responsibility.
    • Statement in Spring of 1972, while participating in the presidential campaign of George McGovern; as quoted at the official Cass Elliot website.
  • I don't think it's so important who you vote for — you vote for who you believe in. The important thing is to vote, because it's our way and it's the best way.
    • Appearance on The Midnight Special in August 1972 in a Get Out The Vote drive; as quoted at the official Cass Elliot website.

Rolling Stone interview (1968)[edit]

I've heard that story about kids are high naturally, but I've seen kids that aren't high, kids who've had the high taken out of them.
Interview with Jerry Hopkins, Rolling Stone magazine No. 20 (26 October 1968)
  • Having the baby changed my life a lot. I don't want to go on the road, you see. It's actually a matter of economics, much like the Vietnamese war, I guess. I didn't want to go on the road and I wanted to stay home with my baby. I guess I could go to Kansas and be a waitress and support my child that way. But I'd rather live comfortable and I wanted to do more creative work. I didn't just want to be part of a group. I wanted to be able to do television, and a movie if it came up, to sort of diversify myself, to extend myself. Within the framework of a group, that freedom is not possible.
We used to have duck-and-cover exercises in school, where they'd ring a bell at any time of the day, sometimes five or six times a day, and we'd crawl under our desks and put our hands like this to protect the back of our necks from the bomb. We all carried that with us.
  • I think the unique thing about music and graphic art is as oposed to, say, acting and directing, that if you are good you can always create a place for yourself. In acting, for instance, there's only a certain amount of good parts; you have to find the right vehicle. But if you're making good music, man, there's so much room. I think that any group that's really good can make it, anytime. That was my feeling behind the Mamas and Papas. When I heard us sing together the first time… we knew, we knew… this is it. This was when we first came to California, after we'd left the islands.
  • I hated it. Everybody'd say, "Hey, mama, what's happening?" Then came the Mamas and Papas and I was stuck with it. And now people call me Mama Cass because of the baby. So I don't know whether I'm gonna be able to really get away from it.
    • On her dislike of being called "Mama" Cass.
  • I would love, in all honesty, to do another album with the Mamas and Papas sometime. I miss them. We're still friends and we want to be friends. Because you break up a successful group, which is really what I did, you know, there's some kind of karma here. I don't feel guilty about it; I left the group because I had to. That was being honest.
I think everybody who has a brain should get involved in politics. Working within. Not criticizing it from the outside. Become an active participant, no matter how feeble you think the effort is.
  • Everything I've learned in life I've learned either by doing it or watching the changes other people go through. And when you're famous, you don't get to meet people — because they want you to like them when they present themselves to you, present the best sides of themselves, and you don't see the real people. Which is why I don't really go anywhere. And when I do, I put on my silly face and do what they expect me to do. Actually, I never do what they expect me to do. It's the only way I could go on doing what I have to do. I do whatever I… you know, I didn't even comb my hair today. I didn't know we were taking pictures but when I found out, it didn't change my mind any.
  • I say, "Look, I'm here now. There must be a reason I'm here." If that's fatalistic, be that as it may. Where my work is, is where my life is, and if we're falling in the ocean, we're falling into the ocean.
  • I would say that there are certain glittering generalities that can be made about every sign that will hold true about everybody who's a member of that sign. For instance, if you had been a Virgo, you would have understood how I hate to be late. I broke up a group I was in once called The Big Three because one of the guys was chronically late and I couldn't take it. I feel when you're supposed to be some place on time, you're there on time. You don't hang people up. It doesn't matter if you're the President of the United States. That's not what you are here for, to hang people up. When I know somebody's sign, and I usually know everybody's sign whether they tell me or not — after getting into this for several years — it helps me to deal with them. Usually I'd rather let people deal with me. That's a total ego hang up, but that's where it's at.
  • I've always wanted to go to England; I've always felt a tremendous drawing to England — especially the Elizabethan period. I felt I was familiar with a lot of it — more than what I was familiar with from what I read and studied in school. I went to England. I started driving. I drove to Stonehenge and found that I had been there. It was familiar to me. I went to the tower of London and knew that I had been there. It was more than just feeling vibrations, which a lot of people can do — feel, you know, vibrations of a place that has antiquity screaming through it. It was an irrefutable fact. It was like coming home for me.
  • I've heard that story about kids are high naturally, but I've seen kids that aren't high, kids who've had the high taken out of them.
I was at the march on the Pentagon just last year, right in the front taking pictures, just being there to find out what was happening, and I was knocked down and stepped on. I don't want to do that again. It didn't accomplish anything...
  • I hope these babies have a world to live in. I hope they have a place to go, a land to walk on. I remember when I was ten years old, in Washington, D.C., and I lived with fear of the atom bomb that would keep me awake nights and make me wake up screaming. I used to babysit for my younger brother and sister and I'd be terrified if I heard a siren, a police car, or an ambulance. I'd say, "My God, what if this is it! How do I protect them?" We used to have duck-and-cover exercises in school, where they'd ring a bell at any time of the day, sometimes five or six times a day, and we'd crawl under our desks and put our hands like this to protect the back of our necks from the bomb. We all carried that with us.
  • I think everybody who has a brain should get involved in politics. Working within. Not criticizing it from the outside. Become an active participant, no matter how feeble you think the effort is.
  • My philosophy is I'm gonna fight as hard as I can to keep all the bad things from happening. But if they are gonna happen and I happen to be in the city where they are happening — like in the song, "California Earthquake" — then there's not much I can do about it. I can't uproot my whole life, just because I have a feeling that things may not work out all right. There's also always the chance that everything is going to be just swell, guys. Just hang in there. But I don't think it can happen on it's own.
I've always been so apathetic. I figured okay, maybe the world is going to fall down around me. Now I feel… maybe that's motherhood, too. I want to make a better world, I want to make sure she has some place to walk around.
  • I think the most successful way to overthrow any government is through infiltration. It's been proven for years. The dream, of course, is that there is going to be a fantastic cataclysm, and that tomorrow we have Adlai Stevenson in the White House. That's not going to happen, and not because Adlai Stevenson is dead. The reason it's not going to happen is that kind of overthrow is not possible. So I will work in the only way I know how, and that is within the establishment — because that is the only existing program. Let someone come up with another one and if it's good I'd do it in a second.
  • I know very few who are willing to die for their convictions. I wouldn't be hit on the head with a billy club or have mace squirted in my face. When I was younger and a radical at American University maybe… as a matter of fact, I was at the march on the Pentagon just last year, right in the front taking pictures, just being there to find out what was happening, and I was knocked down and stepped on. I don't want to do that again. It didn't accomplish anything. They lied about everything that happened. Everything in the newspapers were just lies.
  • Let's take the people who have latent thoughts about maybe the United States isn't always right. They hear a song like "Give a Damn" and maybe it'll awaken them. If it makes you cross that bridge between apathy and effective participation, that's great. There's so much talk about the Drug Generation and songs about drugs. That's stupid. They aren't songs about drugs; they're about life. Music can play a huge part, because it's the international communicative force.
  • I've always been so apathetic. I figured okay, maybe the world is going to fall down around me. Now I feel… maybe that's motherhood, too. I want to make a better world, I want to make sure she has some place to walk around.


Misattributed[edit]

Quotes about Elliot[edit]

  • She was the unsung hero who was quite willing to stand back and pull the strings — and though everyone thinks someone else had done it. It was like the Wizard of Oz you know... she's back there behind the curtains: "Ignore that woman behind the curtain"...

External links[edit]

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