Saturday Matinee: Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz

Ken Nordine… the voice, the guy you’ve heard, but never knew it…


Best of Word Jazz is available on cd via Rhino Records. Ken Nordine’s late 1950’s and early ’60’s work is bizarre. Here’s Bunk’s review [from Amazon] a few years ago:

“Late at night, toss this into your cd player, press pause.

“Turn off the lights.

“Turn on the TV. Turn off the sound. Flip to channel 3…


“Hit play attention…

“Ken Nordine is the comforting yet oddly disturbing voice in your head that you try to ignore, but can’t; he’s the Twilight Zone for your ears.”

But don’t take my word for it. The liner notes include this gem of a description:

“Ken Nordine, yea I know that guy. I heard his voice 1000 times, he’s the guy in the bus station that says “go ahead I’ll keep an eye on your stuff for you,” and you see him the next day walking around town wearing your clothes. He broadcasts from the boiler room of the Wilmont Hotel with 50,000 watts of power. I know that voice, he’s the guy with the pitchfork in your head saying go ahead and jump, and he’s the ambulance driver who tells you you’re going to pull thru. He’s the guy in the control tower who talked you down in a storm with a hole in your fuselage and both engines on fire. I heard him barking thru the Rose Alley Carnival strobe as samurai firemen were pulling hose. Yea he’s the dispatcher with the heart of gold, the only guy up this late on the suicide hotline. Ken Nordine is the real angel sitting on the wire in the tangled matrix of cobwebs that holds the whole attic together. Yea Ken Nordine, he’s the switchboard operator at the Taft Hotel, the only place in town you can get a drink at this hour. You know Ken Nordine, he’s the lite in the icebox, he’s the blacksmith on the anvil in your ear.” –Tom Waits, 1990

For some reason, I have this subtle urge to buy 501 Jeans…

Author: Bunk Strutts

Boogah Boogah.

6 thoughts on “Saturday Matinee: Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz”

  1. Fliberty-Jib, The Vidiot, Original Sin, Looks Like Rain……….Ken Nordine has been doin this stuff since the 50s. Turn the lights out, turn on the tube on with the sound off and put on some Word Jazz


  2. My dad had the “Word Jazz” album when I was a kid in the early 60’s. My brother and I would play it over, and over, and over! We laughed hysterically at some of the tracks. My Dad loved jazz, and I don’t know if it was my Dad’s jazz, or listening to that record, that made me a jazz lover today! I’m now trying to buy a CD of the “word jazz” albums, but can’t find them!


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