"I like the idea of having something that comes from someone else or some other medium and finding myself in it. I like that process. To me it's intriguing. It's like a puzzle. You have pieces of a puzzle to put together. When it's from yourself, you've got nothing. You gotta make the pieces.
"On the rare occasions when I do write something, once the juices start to flow, I always say to myself, Okay, Herbie, you know how this works. If you stop doing this, the juices will stop flowing and the next time you're gonna have to start up from scratch again. Keep writing. Keep writing. And I always fall down and stop. I always -- but I know the secret is to keep doing it.
"There is something I do now, and I have been doing actually for the past thirty-five years, that I can use to stimulate the production of the pieces. Buddhism. We chant Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, that's the phrase we use, but it's a sound and what happens is that it opens up your core and is the source for elevating your life condition and getting you in sync with the universe. Where do the songs come from? They come from life. And when life is illuminated, and you feel more illumination from life, then the inspiration is there. It's been sitting out there all along. You just couldn't see it. So I feel more inspired when I chant."
Listen to an excerpt from "Edith and the Kingpin" with Tina Turner, from Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters which recently won Grammy awards for Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Jazz Album.