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)