There are many ways to combine words and music. Song is one way, but here's another: spoken word with musical accompaniment. This approach surely dates back to our ancient ancestors, but there was a particular renaissance back in the 1950s and '60s, bringing together poetry and jazz. Some of those vintage experiments surely laid the groundwork for the poetry slams and rap of today.
David Garland presents some classic poetry and jazz recordings, including the voices of Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, Kenneth Patchen, Gil Scott-Heron, and Melvin van Peebles, as well as poetry by Walt Whitman and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, along with music by Charles Mingus, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, Allyn Ferguson, and others.