In search of melliflous speakers reading other artists' short works
February 22, 2015 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by hearing Reg E. Cathey reading Charles Mingus's instructions on cat toilet training, I am looking for other funny/touching/compelling recordings of people with interesting voices and styles reading short (under 10 minutes, roughly) pieces from other artists and writers.

I enjoy hearing voices that differ sharply from mid-Atlantic newscaster, and appreciate speaking voices that show age and regionalism and grit -- think the later Johnny Cash, or Lucinda Williams, or, as above, Norman from "The Wire." The topic they address is less important to me than hearing a compelling voice interpret another artist's/writer's words. Stories, essays, addresses and the like are fair game, but as I'd like to put these together on a playlist, shorter is better; YouTube links welcome. I know this question is a bit broad, and I thank you in advance for your suggestions.
posted by MonkeyToes to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in love with Tom Waits' performance of Bukowski's "Nirvana".
posted by davebush at 8:04 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Selected Shorts on NPR is a wonderful series. Actors read aloud short stories- some very famous pieces, and others that are not as well known. I think it works so well because actors are, by the very nature of their profession, gifted at using timing, pitch, etc. for wonderful narration.
posted by Neeuq Nus at 8:18 AM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Jack Nicholson reads Rudyard Kipling (with a soundtrack by Bobby McFerrin). It is around twice your ten-minute limit but is actually two separate stories: How the Rhino Got its Skin is about twelve minutes and How the Camel Got its Hump around ten.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:37 AM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

We just listened to "The Bippolo Seed and other lost stories" by Dr. Seuss, read by various famous actors including Neil Patrick Harris and Edward Herrmann. That was fun and each one is under ten minutes.
posted by chickenmagazine at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

The New Yorker has a monthly fiction podcast featuring an author whom they've published reading the work of another author they've published, and it's quite a varied group; this TuneIn archive is the best I know of.
posted by mr. digits at 1:30 PM on February 22, 2015

Coudal Partners has a "Readers Reading/Verse by Voice" feature on its site; here's Zadie Smith reading Frank O'Hara's poem Animals.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:44 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

The beginning of the Radiolab episode Desperately Seeking Symmetry has a really nice reading by Robert Krulwich about love and partners. He's not someone I would always call "mellifluous", but I really enjoyed this particular piece.
posted by pocams at 1:54 PM on February 22, 2015

When I was a kid, we had records if Jimmy Stewart reading Winnie the Pooh. They were wonderful, but I bet Disney makes sure they are gone and forgotten.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:43 PM on February 22, 2015

When I was a kid, we had records if Jimmy Stewart reading Winnie the Pooh

Here you go.

davebush is on to something -- Waits' voice is terrific, and exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. NPH and Edward Hermann are great in their own rights, but don't quite hit my sweet spot of distinctive, fun-to-hear voices; Jimmy Stewart's a wide miss for me, as I prefer deeper voices. I have enjoyed "Selected Shorts"; are there specific voices to look for there?
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:24 AM on February 23, 2015

Jeremy Irons reading T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets is sublime.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 1:18 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

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