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.