The $10 I spend every month on Spotify is easily my best online purchase. On any given day I use Spotify for at least five hours. My work day, running, and traveling experiences have changed forever. Spotify’s Discovery Playlist makes Mondays exciting. And don’t get me started on their running feature that plays music that matches my pace.
The other day however, I discovered a section of playlists in the depths of Spotify’s Browse section that made me fall more in love with my beautiful, electronic mistress more than I thought possible. Like a vidalia onion or vintage red wine, Spotify revealed to me a layer of itself that I never knew existed: its spoken word section.
As the title perfectly describes, the Word section is a set of files that feature famous speeches, song commentary, college lectures, and audiobooks. When I excitedly told my buds about this section they were just as surprised as I was that this existed.
And so, to celebrate my love for Spotify, I’m here to tell you the best gems within the Word section.
The Word section can be found at the bottom of the page after clicking “Browse.”
The Word section is everything on Spotify that isn’t music. Comedy, Ted Talks, audiobooks, interviews, speeches, old radio shows, and other interesting tidbits.
There are dozens of categories to choose from
Audiobooks are the most popular. I listened to The Great Gatsby on my flight home the other day.
One of my favorite categories is Short Stories
I particularly like “Light Night Tales” because it’s narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch and he, as you can imagine, has a beautiful voice.
Another favorite of mine is the Martin Luther King, Jr. playlist
Spotify has his famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as a few songs written for or about MLK. There’s also the radio announcement of his death as well as a few other famous speeches. If you’re unfamiliar with MLK speeches then start with “We Shall Overcome” and “The American Dream.”
The Editor’s Choice section also has a few gems
“How to tell a story” is a classic short essay by Mark Twain on how to tell a funny story. It’s only 15 minutes long but is hilarious and insightful.
Presidential Voices is the most interesting playlist
I love listening to Obama’s “Yes, We Can Speech,” which of course is on this playlist. Spotify has America’s most famous Presidential speeches such as F.D.R.’s Declaration of War (“A date which will live in infamy.”) and Nixon’s Watergate speech (“I am not a crook.”) but also dozens that I had never heard before or didn’t know the importance of until listening.
And for those of you who want to learn another language, Word has that too
When I had to give a best man’s speech recently I listened to a few from the self-help section
While I am not a fan of poetry, I did listen to Spotify’s Hipster Guide to Poetry so I could listen to culturally relevant poems
The best part is that most of the poems are read by the authors. Hearing Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, and Dylan Thomas read their own work is fascinating and at times, haunting.
Behind the music
Like Vh1’s Behind The Music, there’s a playlist called The Artist Speaks that gives you insight into your favorite songs. You can listen to Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney talk about a song they did together or how Pearl Jam made their latest album.
While there are dozens of great meditation apps, the “Guided Mediation” playlist has 10, 20, and 40-minute guided meditation sessions as well as 21-day courses on meditation, relaxation, and stress relief.
Lectures from the greats
Noam Chomsky once said, “The internet could be a very positive step towards education, organization and participation in a meaningful society.” Was he talking about this Spotify playlist? Maybe.
Old radio broadcasts
You’re missing out if you’ve never listened to a radio drama from the 1950’s. If you’re new to this, start with The Charles Dickens Radio Show.
Music lessons with legends
Learning to play a banjo is on my bucket list. Thankfully, Spotify has banjo and guitar lessons from the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger.
And no, I was not paid by Spotify to write this.