Awesome, unusual, old, poignant audio interviews or speeches
August 31, 2012 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me find some really interesting, slightly obscure, and (hopefully) poignant interviews, speeches, or recordings of texts? Ideally online? Extra-ideally for FREE?

I'm looking for some audio recordings of text to use in a dance work that I'm creating. My usual sources for this sort of thing (recordings of poets reading their work) are not interesting to me for this particular project. Unfortunately, I don't know quite exactly what I want instead.
Can you point me towards any online collections or specific instances of interviews, speeches, other recordings of people talking that I can browse through to try and focus in on what I'm wanting? My parameters are generally very loose, but here are the few specifics that I'm looking for:

- I'd prefer it NOT to be a famous/well-known/easily recognizable text or speech
- I'm looking for a contemplative, reflective, possibly (but not nescessarily) sad, possibly (but not necessarily) nostalgic tone. Tone is very important.
- Themes that would be great include (but are not limited to) change, transition, transformation, loss, endurance, coming up for air, etc. HOWEVER, I'm NOT interested in things that are too explicit or literal with their given theme (ambiguity is good)
- I'd prefer a more conversational/less formal format to the recording (i.e. interviews or casual recordings are probably better than formal speeches or lectures)
- Aesthetically, I prefer older recordings to modern ones (pre-WWII would be GREAT), though this is not a deal-breaker
- Most importantly, the recordings would idelly be in the public domain. I will be using it as part of the soundscape for a performance piece, and I'd prefer not to have to track down and deal with copyright issues.....but I could budge on this if I needed to

Sorry for being so vague. Long story short, I'd REALLY like help finding collections of older interviews, speeches, and readings that are available online and that meet some of the criteria listed above. Alternatively, I'd appreciate help refining search terms to get results that point me in the right direction...
posted by Dorinda to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Story Corps is sort of the modern version of what you're looking for, and might be a jumping-off point. These are casual conversations between people that are meant to be recorded for posterity. They cover a variety of major events and normal day-to-day stuff.

Do you have a university near you? I live near a large public university with excellent archives that are accessible to the public. I've only gone there for publications, but I'm sure they also have recordings.
posted by sararah at 11:14 AM on August 31, 2012

posted by susanvance at 12:14 PM on August 31, 2012

It's not exactly what you're describing, but Librivox is a project that makes audiobook type recordings of public domain texts. They release all their recordings to the public domain as well. The recordings are modern, but the content is older, and they have a lot of obscure/lesser known works.
posted by yuwtze at 12:16 PM on August 31, 2012

The Internet Archive is also a good place to browse, especially for public domain works. It is huge and you'll really need to dig through, but the Pacifica Radio Archives might be a good place to start.
posted by susanvance at 12:24 PM on August 31, 2012 is a good suggestion, though as susanvance says, it's pretty big. You might have some luck narrowing things down by using the search term "oral history." (These ought to be public domain, but you should double-check that they actually are before using them.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:26 PM on August 31, 2012 is a collection of NPR broadcasts between host Krista Tippett and various religious, scientific and social scholars. Search on that site for "John O,donohue" and "rumi". There are tons of awesome interviews there as well and Tippetts voice is quite pleasant to listen to.

also check out for contemplative text, though these typically have no audio. Consider finding the right text, then have someone record it for you.
posted by lake59 at 12:50 PM on September 1, 2012

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