In 1968, William Shatner changed the landscape of spoken word music. Well, no he didn’t. But he did release one of the best comedic music records of all time.
Intentionally? Unintentionally? It’s still a debate.
“The Transformed Man,” a 37-minute record, features Shatner juxtaposing Shakespeare and pop songs in spoken word. The most famous track: Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which Shatner dramatically recites, his signature dramatic pauses and flourishes on full display, until he reaches the song’s final chorus.
He repeats, with varying degrees of urgency, “Mister tambourine man?” Until finally, he lets out one final, desperate, guttural and utterly hilarious “MISTER TAMBOURINE MAN?!”
The interesting thing about this album is not how many albums it sold — with its cult following, it has been reissued in record as recently as 2014, and, of course, is available digitally. It’s how much it helped Shatner throughout his life.
Some might argue it’s what jump started Shatner’s comedy career, and led to his iconic status in pop culture.