Christopher Walken, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry & Other Celebs Read Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

Back in 1997, Hal Willner recorded, Closed On Account of Rabies, an audio compilation featuring well-known artists reading macabre stories by Edgar Allan Poe. 15 years later, the album has gone out of circulation. A handful of “out-of-print” CDs can be bought on Amazon. But they’ll run you anywhere from $30 for a used copy, to $250 for a mint copy in its original packaging. That puts the audio collection out of reach for most.

Once again Open Culture comes in handy. Above, we’re featuring a YouTube clip with Christopher Walken reading Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven.” Below, we have assembled a few more highlights from Closed On Account of Rabies — readings by Iggy Pop, Marianne Faithfull and Jeff Buckley.  And if you want to get resourceful, you can always rummage through YouTube for more tracks listed out here. Meanwhile, the major works of Edgar Allan Poe can be found in our collections of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

Iggy Pop Reads “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Marianne Faithfull Reads “Annabel Lee” 

Jeff Buckley Reads “Ulalume”

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Comments (16)
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  • Would someone please shoot the producer who decided to put those annoying sound effects in the background?

  • Jeremy Bosk says:

    These recordings deserve to vanish from human and electronic memory. What an abominable butchery of a great writer’s works.

  • Brian Minton says:

    The producer was Hal Willner, according to wikipedia.

  • Patrick Cuddihy says:

    Poetry is the power of words. There is little or no use for synthetic sounds. Perhaps it was felt needed to distract from the fact that the tellers were reading, without very much feeling for the power of words in the first place. Faithful carries Annabel Lee well, but Walkin and Co are as rigid as concrete! It’s a fact that even poets don’t read poetry very well; leaving the telling to ham actors who read with feeling for every line just doesn’t work at all. But for poetry sake, leave the sound effects to Boris Karlof and look to the Vincent Prices to speak it!

  • NDizzle says:

    I think these people are doing an excellent job. Y’all are just hating. Walken’s reading of The Raven is excellent. His timing gives the suspense that a worse reading turns into mere foolishness. The Raven can sound so trite and silly if read wrong, he caught the macabre, but left room for a silliness of the narrator’s panic. The sound effects didn’t bother me. It’s atmosphere, and this is performance, not your standard, boring, self-indulgent poetry club reading.

  • Luke Martin says:

    Pfft, no love for Diamanda Galas’s ‘The Black Cat’?

  • Ramona Ortega says:

    Who better than Christopher Walken to read Poe’s “The Raven!” I didn’t need sound effects; I could “see” Walken standing and reading this classic poem as if he were in my living room on Halloween night. These recordings are classics. I enjoyed them, and that’s all that counts.

  • Helena Neumann says:

    wonderful Christopher Walken

  • meetarnav says:

    Nice effort but didn’t like the rendition.

  • A says:

    Completely and irrevocable awesome.
    Ignore the pretentious d**bf**ks.

  • A says:

    Completely and irrevocably awesome.
    Ignore the pretentious d**bf**ks.

  • J. Stockdale says:

    I bought this album when it first came out. I break it out every couple of years and listen to it again. Definitely worth a listen in my opinion.

  • TLDGonzalez says:

    To discover this now, a recording of a beloved musican Jeff Buckley, reading my favorite childhood stories..beautiful. The pantameter lends suspense and grace. Those who disapprove may want to listen once more after tapping on your third eye 13xS..

  • Wow Bob wow says:

    Oh please. nothing is inherently sacred. you make it so. Get over your pretentious bullshit. Everything will be “ruined” in the end.

  • Tedi Punkgrrl says:

    Iggy Pop is amazing – perfect “second career” for him. Wow! Off to Amazon I go.

  • elf robert chadis says: has me reading poe with intelligent comprehension, in contrast to these childish versions.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.