Vocal Impressions: Hearing Voices, Round Four Commentator Brian McConnachie has been asking listeners to describe — in poetic language — their impressions of famous voices. In his last challenge, he asked listeners to describe the voices of Sean Connery, Bob Dylan, Odetta and Mae West.
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Vocal Impressions: Hearing Voices, Round Four

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Vocal Impressions: Hearing Voices, Round Four

Vocal Impressions: Hearing Voices, Round Four

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

It sounds like it should be easy - fine words to describe a famous voice. But give it a try and you'll find it can be tough. Still that hasn't stopped nearly a thousand of you from participating in our series called Vocal Impressions.

SIEGEL: The idea was brought to us by writer and humorist Brian McConnachie. And he's been busy reading all of your e-mail responses. Here's his latest installment.

BRIAN McCONNACHIE: Good afternoon, and to all of you who submitted a response I congratulate you with your creativity and your images and your insight. You are a good read. The voices you were invited to describe included jazz folk singer Odetta, movie star and actor Sean Connery, the one scandalous writer-performer Mae West and musical pioneer Bob Dylan. We'll begin with Odetta.

ODETTA (Jazz Folk Singer): (Singing) Another man had gone. Another man had gone. Another man had gone.

McCONNACHIE: Greg Quagliara describes her voice as a locomotive just as it's starts to creep forward on a long burdensome journey.

ODETTA: (Singing) I didn't know his name.

McCONNACHIE: Joshua Little(ph) states hers is a voice I seek when peering into dark abandoned wells.

ODETTA: (Singing) I didn't know his name.

McCONNACHIE: Cole Rosholt(ph) describes her voice as the arm fat of your great-aunt's hugs.

ODETTA: (Singing) He had a long chain on.

McCONNACHIE: Jill Hancock says her voice is the feeling of losing something important knowing you will never find it. Leslie Ott says Odetta's voice is a warm cupcake that just fell on the floor but you're going to eat it anyway. And Matthew Zenick(ph) declares her voice is the moan of draught-ridden soil following the first summer shower.

ODETTA: (Singing) He had a long chain on.

McCONNACHIE: Next was the voice of Sean Connery.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Untouchables")

Mr. SEAN CONNERY (Actor): (As Jim Malone) You said you wanted to know how to get Capone.

McCONNACHIE: Melody Whitaker says it's the voice made for reading Shakespeare aloud in bed.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Untouchables")

Mr. CONNERY: (As Jim Malone) Do you really want to get him? Do you see what I'm saying? What are you prepared to do?

McCONNACHIE: Leslie Skebinski declares it's a warm rough cat's tongue licking my spine.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Untouchables")

Mr. CONNERY: (As Jim Malone) And then what are you prepared to do?

McCONNACHIE: Heather Coan states simply it's a woolen cloak.

Bridget Johnson says it's a handsome voice that makes every boy feel he has an inner bond and every girl thinks that good looks and crime go hand in hand.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Untouchables")

Mr. CONNERY: (As Jim Malone) If you open the bone in these people, Mr. Nash, you must be prepared to go all the way.

McCONNACHIE: And from Fullerton, California, Lori McGee's(ph) grammar school class offers among other things his voice sounds like a hamster stuck in his throat, outer space, winter rain, a clog toilet and a calm lion.

Ms. MAE WEST (Actress): Listen, Paul(ph), Tim(ph) and (Unintelligible), it's time I told you a thing or two.

McCONNACHIE: Then there was the voice of Mae West.

Ms. WEST: Ever since creation, I've done nothing but play double solitaire.

McCONNACHIE: Kristy Cano(ph) describes her voice as when sexy was an art. Anna Gotlieb(ph) describes it as a poodle's skirt bumble-gum pink. Miles Lynch identifies her voice as Mighty Mouse's Misses.

Ms. MAE WEST: It's disgusting. It's got me down. And we're going to have a little fun once in a while. There's no future under a fig tree.

McCONNACHIE: Todd Larks(ph) says it's smoky in as strange nasal way like she French inhaled her lines then growled them out her nose.

Eva Cone(ph) says it's the voice to sway the most rigid tree in the forest. And our final voice of the batch - Bob Dylan.

Mr. BOB DYLAN (Singer): (Singing) You just want to be on the side of who's winning.

McCONNACHIE: Hayden Walsh(ph) describes Dylan's voice as an uneven sidewalk leading out of town.

Mr. DYLAN: (Singing) You say I let you down. You know it's not like that.

McCONNACHIE: Terrance O'Sullivan(ph) said it's the voice that sounds like the undeniable truth not everyone will react to in the same way. Wendy Whittimore(ph) quoted David Bowie who describes Dylan's voice as sand and glue.

Mr. DYLAN: (Singing) Johnny's in the basement mixing up some medicine. I'm on the pavement thinking about the government. The man in a trench coat back out laid off says he's got a fast car wants to get it paid off.

McCONNACHIE: Tim Wiggins(ph) says it's simultaneously the itch and the scratch. Peter Miller(ph) states his voice is a cross-country road trip in a car without air-conditioning. Matthew Meorns(ph) says it's a voice that talks to you when you're curled up in the bottom of a liquor bottle losing at poker. Benjamin Philine(ph) describes Dylan's voice as a junkyard dog after pulling and pulling has finally broken free of his leash. And Pamela Wiseson(ph) describes his voice as an ice cream headache, adding, but I'm a fan.

Mr. DYLAN: (Singing) Orders from the DA. Look out kid. Don't matter what you did. Walk on your tip toes. Don't try, no doz. Better stay away from those that carry around a fire hose. Keep a clean nose. Watch the plain clothes. You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.

McCONNACHIE: So now onto the next group of voices. This is a hearty stew. They are Mick Jagger.

Mr. MICK JAGGER (Singer): (Singing) I saw her today at a reception. A glass of wine in her hand.

McCONNACHIE: Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Ms. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (Former First Lady): During half takes to be able to greet the many other girls scouts enthusiasts to all over the country.

McCONNACHIE: Baritone Barry White.

Mr. BARRY WHITE (Singer): (Singing) My first, my last, my everything. And the answer to all my dreams. You're my sun, my moon, my guiding star.

McCONNACHIE: And tenor Luciano Pavoritti.

Mr. LUCIANO PAVORITTI (Singer): (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

McCONNACHIE: I love it they're together at last. Mick Jagger, Eleanor Roosevelt, Barry White and Luciano Pavoritti. Have fun and I'll be back next month to report on what you did with this batch.

Mr. LUCIANO PAVORITTI (Singer): (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

(Soundbite of applause)

SIEGEL: If you want to offer your characterizations of those voices and play along with Brian McConnachie, go to our Web site, npr.org. One you're there search for the phrase Vocal Impressions. That's npr.org and search Vocal Impressions.

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