Rediscovering the Art of Spoken Word Intros in Music

In the ever-evolving landscape of music, certain artistic elements tend to wax and wane in popularity. One such forgotten gem is the spoken word intro—a narrative prelude that once adorned numerous classic songs. While it may have fallen out of mainstream favor, the charm of these spoken introductions endures, offering a unique glimpse into the storytelling aspect of music.

A Nostalgic Resurgence

The 2017 album Boo Boo by Toro Y Moi brings a refreshing revival of the spoken word intro with the track “Mirage.” Chaz Bundick kicks off the album by expressing his desire for everyone to have a good time, setting the stage for a sonic journey.

Exploring Eccentricities with Bowie

David Bowie, the master of musical innovation, embraced the spoken word intro in “Andy Warhol” from the album Hunky Dory. Here, Bowie experiments with different pronunciations of the eccentric artist’s name, showcasing his playful and avant-garde approach to music.

Political Commentary in Musical Form

Phil Ochs, a prominent figure in the protest music movement, delivers a thought-provoking spoken word intro in “Love Me I’m A Liberal.” The track provides a satirical commentary on the political landscape, pointing out the nuanced perspectives of liberals.

Backstage Banter and Rock Anthems

The glam-rock band Sweet immortalized the spoken word intro in “Ballroom Blitz.” Brian Connelly’s rallying cry to his bandmates—asking, “Are you ready, Steve? Andy? Mick?”—ushers in the energetic anthem and adds a touch of camaraderie.

From Cover Stories to Rolling Stones

Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” humorously captures the band’s reaction to making the front page. The members share their disbelief, creating an amusing prelude to the catchy tune.

A Transition of Melancholy

The transition from “Bungalow Bill” to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on The Beatles’ White Album is marked by George Harrison’s friendly shout, “Hey all!” It serves as a seamless bridge into the contemplative masterpiece, featuring Eric Clapton’s iconic guitar work.

Toni Tennille’s Inquisitive Prelude

Pink Floyd’s “One of My Turns” from The Wall begins with a spoken word intro by Toni Tennille. Her probing questions set the stage for the track, providing insight into the troubled character’s psyche.

Banter and Banjos with The Monkees

Davy Jones engages in banter with his bandmates in “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees. This spoken word intro, where they discuss which track is on, adds a touch of lightheartedness before the infectious melody takes over.

Alice Cooper’s Haunting Invitation

In “Steven” from Alice Cooper’s album Welcome To My Nightmare, the spoken word intro is delivered through the voice of a young boy. Cooper’s haunting invitation, “I don’t want you to leave,” adds an eerie layer to the track.

Teenage Drama Unveiled by Shangri-Las

The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” opens with a cinematic spoken word intro where two girls discuss their friend’s romantic involvement with a biker named Jimmie. The dialogue unfolds like a teenage drama, setting the scene for the tragic narrative that follows.

A Poetic Overture

In revisiting these songs with classic spoken word intros, we not only tap into nostalgia but also recognize the artistry that accompanies such poetic overtures. These spoken word introductions serve as more than just verbal preludes; they are storytelling devices that enhance the narrative and emotional depth of the music they precede, inviting listeners into a world where words are as impactful as melodies. As we celebrate these gems from the past, let’s hope for a resurgence of this lost art in contemporary music, where spoken word intros can once again weave tales and captivate audiences.