KEXP Documentaries: Poets and Music - Ken Nordine

There is no voice like Ken Nordine’s. We finished up our KEXP Documentary series “Poets and Music” with a profile of the great word artist. You may not know his name, but you know his voice. He’s been all over radio and tv since 1938. Doing big campaigns like Tasters Choice, Levis and tons of movie trailers. He’s influenced great musicians like Bowie, Laurie Anderson and Tom Waits.

He started making recordings with music in his basement in the 1950s. He called his mix of voice and improvised music “word jazz”. And his volumes of word jazz, along with his famous exploration of paint hues called “Colors” are cult favorites with alternative musicians, poets and voice artist the world over.

I found Ken Nordine in the late 90s, while working night shift at KCMU (now KEXP). As soon as I put on the first track, I was hooked by the intimacy of the recordings, the silliness and profundity of the writing, and its mix with music. It was so very surreal to talk to Ken on the phone. In the middle of the conversation he started talking to someone else, I think it was his cat. And he told me about his new experiments with video on YouTube. Now in his 90s, Ken Nordine hosts a weekly radio show in Chicago. And is still on the cutting edge of poetry mixed with music.

Listen to this KEXP Documentary:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

KEXP Documentaries are created by Michele Myers with assistance from John Felthous, Tiffany Grobelski, Mary Janisch and Executive Producer Kevin Cole. If you would like to follow along more closely in the creation of these radio stories, we post research materials, songs and videos on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

This entry was posted in KEXP, KEXP Documentaries and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Donate Now!
where the music matters

The KEXP Blog

  • Listen Live:

    High Quality AAC+
    Excellent for PC, Mac, iPhones/iPads, Android Devices, tables, iTunes, Winamp, and VLC. High quality audio, low bandwidth

    MP3 Stream
    Best for computers running OSX or Windows with iTunes or the open source VideoLAN Player installed

  • Breaking New Ground Together!

    Help Build Our New Home!
  • KEXP AND THE UW

    The University of Washington Logo KEXP is a service of the
    University of Washington
  • iTunes and KEXP

    iTunes Logo
    You can now find KEXP under "Eclectic" in iTunes after the demise of the "Public" category, to better represent the diversity of our daytime variety shows and numerous specialty programs.
Sponsored By
Become a KEXP Sponsor!
  • KEXP Post Categories