They Say Stealing Makes for Great Art

Steal like an artist


“I stole everything I ever heard, but mostly I stole from the horns.” —Ella Fitzgerald

I have a few cover songs in my set that have overstayed their welcome. I don’t know what happened. I used to love them and looked forward to playing them, excited for people to recognize them when I perform. I lost the loving feeling but couldn’t seem to give them up. One in particular, “Farewell Ride” by Beck, is such an emotive song and really helped me to define my style. That all changed when I read a book called

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.

I think all creative people would benefit from this quick read. In this book he explains that creative people are curators of inspiration, collecting art, songs, etc. that capture something that resonates with us as creators. He encourages us to take our curating one step further by actually stealing the ideas. That’s right, art isn’t sacred; it is stolen and built upon and then stolen and built upon again and again. For more on this topic see “Everything is a Remix,” a TED talk by Kirby Ferguson.

I started flipping through the book looking at the drawings and scribbles, and then I even started from the beginning and read it. Part way through I took his advice, put down the book and sought out to write my version of “Farewell Ride.” I took all that I love about “Farewell Ride,” minimal, open, and repetitive with a dark mood, and created my own song, “Whispering Winds.” It worked out better than I could have imagined.

“Whispering Winds,” which is powerfully emotive and creates a sense of longing, breathed new life into my set. When I later played through my set I was surprised to find that “Farewell Ride” no longer fit. I released my grip on it because it had served its purpose.


Farewell Ride/Album Version by Beck on Grooveshark


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About Antonia Montoya

Antonia spends most of her time helping her clients make the positive changes they want in their lives as a health coach. She is most proud of her dedication to a well-rounded life outside of work: rocking out on upright bass, family, knitting, love, friends, painting, photography, seeing live bands, dancing, playing with her dogs, and practicing daily gratitude. She is most alive when she is performing with her band, Sin Serenade, and her solo project, Alonerly.


  1. Antonia on April 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    If you like this, come see more on Thursday. Three bands and a dance party at Blackbird. I start out the night at 10pm sharp.

    • Peri Pakroo on April 10, 2013 at 12:25 am

      I hope to be there Antonia! Looks like a cool night.

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