Through the years here at Flea Market Funk, we’ve talked a lot about many types of records. However, one genre that hasn’t been spoken about is, surprise, spoken word. Our crates here have been strangely attracted to the vinyl records with no music, ones with just talking. Whether it be a comedy record, movie dialogue, poetry, or any number of records that don’t contain a note of music, these manage to fill more than just a small nook in our record bins. Why do we do this? What purpose do these things serve other than taking space? Today we are going to investigate. Just why am I buying spoken word records?
I have been fascinated with cut and paste type records/songs since I was a kid. When I heard those Dickie Goodman and Rick Dees 45s on the radio and then later on, Steinski’s work, I had a grandiose plan that one day I was going to make my own album out of my vinyl collection. My personal ‘cut and paste’ masterpiece. Influenced by beat tapes, Entroducing, and many other recordings that came across my plate, I started buying these records. I bought records about Atari games, religious speakers (at 16 speed, I couldn’t even play it!), TV and movie dialogue, old time radio shows, air traffic control lingo, and more. I’ve definitely got a weird selection of comic book records, children’s stories, educational material, insurance company records, and picture discs with speaking parts. What is too many ‘how to’ records? How to play guitar, how to play the Hammond organ, how to train a parakeet, and how to speak French are a few that come to mind at the moment. Am I really going to use the Moon Landing 45? How about The Adventures of Mister World? (In fact I’ve heard it sampled before so someone beat me to it). Can you have too many Wild Man Steve Lps? These are the questions I often ask myself when I slip the newly purchased spoken word into its shelf, so when inspiration strikes I can take it out and sample it for a mix, or better yet, write it down in this ancient notebook of records, songs, and times where the sample appears. Now, the hard part is actually putting all these notes together and trying to make something out of it. That will have to be an ongoing process with an end date TBD.
This all doesn’t end horribly though. even though these records take up space, they are interesting enough, and when I went for a dig yesterday, I think I found a reason I still buy these records. I came upon a stack of late 50’s Dylan Thomas Lps in mint condition through and through fro $2 each. Ok, poetry on vinyl doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing, but I took one look at the covers and fell in love. These specific covers were designed by artist Antonio Frasconi. His wood block cuts are beautiful, and the label, Caedmon Records is famous for these type of covers. Frasconi designed for artists like Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie. he has designed a few covers in the present time, his style and look unmistakable. While my small obsession with spoken word fills one niche, it took all these years to see a beautiful cover to fuel the fire even more. This is one more reason why I still buy spoken word records. Now finishing that masterpiece is a different story.