Friday, May 04, 2007

Ken Nordine


I can’t even begin to imagine how the American youth, or as Moosehead calls them “Youts”, feels about the technology they have grown up with. I’ll admit I’m a bit of a foggey because I never used a cell phone to take a photo, nor have I ever sent a text message. Our relationship to the hipness of a culture is defined by the technology we embrace.

Obviously I am not a man of the present times because I still harbor fond feelings for stereo amplifiers that have vacuum tubes. I have fond feelings for spinning vinyl. I have a fondness for old technology multi-track reel to reel recordings. I don’t like synthesizers and samplers. I guess I could play with them, but they just aren’t the same as multi-tracking.

This is why I particularly love the music of Les Paul and Frank Zappa. However there is a multi-tracking artist that outshines them all, Ken Nordine who is now 87.

Ken has bee working in the voice-over industry since the 40s and started making recording of his own in 1955. Listeners of Public Radio were treated to his works on a weekly radio show about 20 years ago with his series of Word Jazz and Stare With Your Ears. I recorded them every week.

Ken combined the reading of stories and poems with over-dubs of his own voice or voices commenting or having dialog in the background. Sound effects flew in and out, running themes or inside jokes would come and go through the mix. Sometimes his half hour show would be about a number or a color, but it was always the counterpoint of voices and dialog that peaked the interest of the listener.

For those of you who know of the exquisite weirdness of Ken, I hope you can close you eyes and stare with your ears again. For those who have not you should be able to find some sound clips on the net. I have a long trip coming up and I’ll be taking a box of cassettes with me. Yes my truck has a CD player and a Cassette player and a sound system that kicks ass.

Ken Nordine’s discography is below:

1955 - Passion in the Desert (FM) / 1963 (FM)
1957 - Word Jazz (Dot) / 1967 (Dot) / 1983 (MCA)
1958 - Son of Word Jazz (Dot)
1958 - Love Words (Dot) / 1959 (Dot)
1959 - My Baby (Dot)
1959 - Next! (Dot)
1959 - The Voice of Love (Hamilton)
1960 - Word Jazz Vol. 2 (Dot)
1966 - Colors (Philips) / 1995 (Asphodel)
1967 - Ken Nordine Does Robert Shure's Twink (Philips)
1968 - The Classic Collection: The Best of Word Jazz Vol. 3 (Dot)
1971 - How Are Things In Your Town? (Blue Thumb)
1972 - Ken Nordine (Blue Thumb)
1979 - Stare With Your Ears (Snail) / 1988 (Snail)
1984 - Triple Talk (Snail)
1986 - Grandson of Word Jazz (Snail)
1990 - Best of Word Jazz (Rhino)
1991 - Devout Catalyst (Grateful Dead)
1993 - Upper Limbo (Grateful Dead)
2001 - Transparent Mask (Asphodel)

11 Comments:

Blogger Auntie said...

Thanks for providing me with yet another new "quest" for new stuff. Which happens to be old, but I like that.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Jaggy said...

my phone doesn't have a camera function. and my camera doesn't have a phone function. I've never owned a video gaming device. My sister and I had fun toys, but none were as special to us as the cardboard boxes. As much as today's youth relies on electronics, there are a few of us that won't die when the power goes out. :P

6:36 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

"Exquisite weirdness."
Those two words alone make the man worth checking out.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

There are those who introduce new ideas and methodologies, and there are others that take the lead, hit the ground running, and make good use of it.
When it comes to sound on sound and multisync, the Carpenters really burned up the charts for several years tastfully using this tech.
With Karens PERFECT voice, and 3, 5, 9, point harmony, WOW!!!!
And I'm with you, Guy ;I have all of my vinyl albums.
Next time you roll into town, have some Norgdine with you.
Then you can hear what it's supposed to sound like.
:-O

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you heard of Hank Ballard?
Growing up I heard his song once on the radio "annie had a baby" for the times it was considered to be negative music. Now listen to what is out there.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous F. Lee said...

TGWWT, do you have these two?:

The Best of Word Jazz, Vol 1

Devout Catalyst

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Moosehaed said...

Then again, there is Hank Snow!!

That big eight-wheeler rollin' down the track
Means your true-lovin' daddy ain't comin' back
'Cause I'm movin' on, I'll soon be gone
You were flyin' too high, for my little old sky
So I'm movin' on

6:07 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Hey everyone, I'm out of town with limited net time. But I have to say you kids are funny. I'll check in tomorrow.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Ken Nordine has the best voice. Thanks for posting the photo of Ken--I've never seen a photo. He looks like a cross between Albert Einstein and I'm not sure who else.

Have you ever checked out Joe Frank? He used to have a show called Joe Frank: Work in Progress that was really good. I think it's available for download somewhere on the Net.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Amaya said...

Considering myself one of those 'youts' I can tell you that it's pretty astonishing how much has changed during my short lifetime. I often find it scary how our society depends on said changes without considering it's impact. I can only imagine how scary that has to be for the previous generation or the ones before that who try to live in the fast-paced city and don't understand the technology.

12:59 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I'll check out Joe Frank. I love using my ears to draw pictures in my mind.

Amaya, I decided a few years back to no longer keep up with it all.

2:23 PM  

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