‘Library of Congress: National Registry of Music’ – Entries Since 1960 (Part 3)

Posted 13 Jan 2009 in Uncategorized


One of the greatest honors in the recording world is to have your work added to the Library of Congress National Registry. Let’s look at the 100 or so entries that were recorded since 1960.

Here are the third 25.

Be sure to visit all four pages

Part 1 / Part 2 /Part 3 / Part 4


  1. “The Band” (album). The Band. (1969)

    The Band’s debut album, “Music from Big Pink,” was a shot across the bow of popular music. “We were rebelling against the rebellion,” declared guitarist Robbie Robertson. Ignoring the prevailing “hard” rock, their second, self-titled LP (colloquially known as “the brown album”) continued their emphasis on Americana, but featured even better songwriting and ensemble playing than that on “Pink.” The Band mixed rock and roll with country, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, and even gospel. Robertson cited the influence of The Staple Singers on their vocals. Even the sound was deliberately against the grain, from touches such as the mouth bow harp-like Clavinet of “Up on Cripple Creek” to the overall woody sound of the album. “The Band” presented an image of America largely absent in the popular music of its time. Selected for the 2009 registry.

  2. “The Continental Harmony: Music of Williams Billings.” Gregg Smith Singers. (1969)

    Composer William Billings published six collections of his choral music between 1770 and 1794.  His “New England Psalm Singer” (1770) was the first tune book devoted entirely to the compositions of a single American composer.  Billings was largely self-taught, yet his a cappella choral writing, featuring the melody in the tenor, created an indigenous sacred music that expanded the musical language of America.  While Billings was well known in his lifetime—his song “Chester” was nearly as popular as “Yankee Doodle” during the American Revolution—his work was largely forgotten for more than a century.  Despite his having composed over 340 works, little of Billings’ music was included in mainstream American sacred choral music collections after 1820.  His musical style and some of his pieces, however, were kept alive within the Southern U.S. shape-note singing tradition.  Following World War II, a generation of scholars and performers rediscovered his fresh and vigorous music.  This recording by the Gregg Smith Singers, a sixteen-member choral ensemble dedicated to the performance of American music, helped re-introduce Billings’ music to the world. Selected for the 2011 registry.

  3. “The Eighty-Six Years of Eubie Blake” (album). Eubie Blake. (1969)

    This two-LP set introduced ragtime composer, performer and songwriter Eubie Blake to a new generation of listeners. The recorded musical autobiography featured his ragtime compositions from the early years of the 20th century and his musical theater pieces of the 1920s. In the recording, Blake is reunited with his partner from the 1920s, Noble Sissle. The recording captures the full range of Blake’s genius, his ebullient music and his infectious personality. It also documents his enduring contributions to jazz and musical theater. Selected for the 2006 registry.

  4. “Trout Mask Replica” (album). Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. (1969)

    This unclassifiable melding of country, blues, folk and free jazz filtered through Captain Beefheart’s feverishly inventive imagination remains without precedent in its striking sonic and lyrical originality. Captain Beefheart (the stage name of Don Van Vliet) and the Magic Band—Bill Harkleroad, Jeff Cotton, Victor Hayden, Mark Boston and John French—had spent months sequestered in a house in the Los Angeles foothills, rehearsing and re-rehearsing the compositions to meet Van Vliet’s exacting standards before they entered the studio, to be recorded by Frank Zappa. Upon its release, the album, by no means universally embraced, nonetheless garnered raves from many influential music critics. Scores of pop, new wave, punk and post-punk artists claim Beefheart as an influence, including The Gang of Four, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Minutemen, Pere Ubu, The Fall, Tom Waits, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The White Stripes. Selected for the 2010 registry.

  5. Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong broadcast from the moon. (July 21, 1969)

    The landing of Apollo 11 on the moon had the world glued to its television set, yet the most enduring memories of the achievement are aural: “Houston. Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed…. I’m going to step off the LEM now. That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” These words, first broadcast from the moon, have become some of the most recognizable and memorable sentences spoken in United States history.Selected for the 2004 registry.

  6. “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Loretta Lynn. (1970)

    Loretta Lynn’s signature song lovingly recalls her hardscrabble upbringing in Butcher Hollow, a poor coal mining community in Kentucky. With an upbeat melody and arrangement, the song warmly recounts a childhood of little economic means but much love. Lynn writes songs that are realistic and plain spoken, portraying strong and independent women like herself. She was named to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, and her successful career continues to the present. Selected for the 2009 registry.

  7. “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers” (album). Firesign Theatre. (1970)

    Firesign Theatre, the Los Angeles-based comedy group, started on radio station KPFK in 1966 and began producing comedy records in 1968. “Don’t Crush That Dwarf” was recorded in 1970 utilizing many sophisticated production techniques for the first time on a comedy album, including 16-track recording and Dolby noise reduction. The technology, enlisted in the service of the ensemble’s creativity, enabled the use of surreal sound effects and layered storytelling. “Dwarf” is a one-act play that satirizes radio and television programs to comment on political, social and literary topics of its day. Selected for the 2005 registry.

  8. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Gil Scott-Heron. (1970)

    This poem, first released on Gil Scott-Heron’s debut album, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” served as a rallying cry to black America and proved a foreshadowing of the more politically active strains of rap music. Having published a novel before he switched to a career as a recording artist, Scott-Heron’s street poetry proved uncompromising in its vision. Selected for the 2005 registry.

  9. “Songs of the Humpback Whale” (album). (1970)

    The use of underwater microphones called hydrophones showed that not only can whales communicate, but they do so with beauty and complexity. Frank Watlington and Roger Payne, among others, made these unique recordings. The haunting sounds on “Songs of the Humpback Whale,” along with Payne’s liner notes for CRM Records, helped turn the tide of U.S. public opinion against whaling. In addition to the album’s aesthetic and political significance, it can also be considered historically valuable: whales change their songs over time so these recordings document a cetacean performance practice of a time gone by. Selected for the 2010 registry.

  10. “The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East” (album). The Allman Brothers Band. (1971)

    This classic live performance of southern blues rock contains a powerfully emotional rendition of “Whipping Post” sung by Gregg Allman. That song became a touring standard for the band while the album received wide acclaim for its lengthy improvisational jams featuring the distinctive dual lead guitars of Duane Allman and Dickie Betts.Selected for the 2004 registry.

  11. “Coat of Many Colors.” Dolly Parton. (1971)

    Dolly Parton’s autobiographical song, “Coat of Many Colors,” affectionately recounts an impoverished childhood in the hills of Tennessee that was made rich by the love of her family. The song was instrumental in establishing Parton’s credibility as a songwriter.  Her voice uplifts the song with emotion and tender remembrances of her close-knit musical family.  Parton has called “Coat of Many Colors” the favorite of her compositions because of the attitude and philosophy it reflects.  Parton’s prolific songwriting career has embraced many different musical styles, including pop, jazz, and bluegrass, as well as country.  Dolly Parton was voted the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the year for 1975 and 1976 and inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. Selected for the 2011 registry.

  12. “Let’s Stay Together.” Al Green. (1971)

    Al Green’s musical career began as a member of a gospel music vocal quartet. He found great commercial success when teamed with Memphis producer Willie Mitchell, crafting a singing style that incorporates an understated delivery with occasional climbs to a casual, pure falsetto. Green’s sleek delivery is complemented effectively by underlying brassy horns and funk rhythms played by the accomplished Hi Records studio band. At the height of his popularity in the mid-‘70s, Green stopped performing secular music to pursue religious endeavors, singing gospel music and becoming an ordained minister. Since the mid-‘80s, he has performed and recorded both secular and sacred music. Selected for the 2010 registry.

  13. “Philomel: For Soprano, Recorded Soprano, and Synthesized Sound” (album). Bethany Beardslee, soprano. (1971)

    Milton Babbitt’s “Philomel” was commissioned by the Ford Foundation for the noted soprano Bethany Beardslee. It is an outstanding example of an early synthesizer composition. Selected for the 2002 registry.

  14. “Tapestry” (album). Carole King. (1971)

    Composer Carole King wrote many early rock and roll classics and then became a successful solo recording artist with her 1971 album, “Tapestry.” It established King as a premier and influential force for female singer-songwriters and stayed on the charts for over 300 weeks. Selections on the album include “I Feel the Earth Move,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” and “It’s Too Late.” Selected for the 2003 registry.

  15. “What’s Going On” (album). Marvin Gaye. (1971)

    A masterful stylist of sophisticated soul, Marvin Gaye’s songs helped promote the Motown sound throughout the 1960s. Many of his vocal collaborations with Tammi Terrell topped the rhythm and blues charts. His 1971 concept album, “What’s Going On,” explored deeply held spiritual beliefs while offering social commentary on cultural events of the day. This self-written, self-produced concept album was an abrupt departure from previous Motown releases and became a huge commercial success. Selected for the 2003 registry.

  16. “Black Angels (Thirteen Images from the Dark Land).” The New York Strings Quartet. (1972)

    Composers Recordings Inc. (CRI) was established in 1954 by Otto Luening, Douglas Moore and Oliver Daniel. CRI was dedicated to the recording of contemporary classical music by American composers and, in doing so, helped to introduce hundreds of new musical works to audiences. American composer George Crumb is noted for his challenging and often surreal, emotionally effective works, which frequently incorporate new musical timbres and take complex forms. “Black Angels,” one of Crumb’s best-known pieces, was inspired by the Vietnam War. The piece is written for amplified electric string quartet and includes the playing of a number of percussion instruments, crystal goblets and chanting by the quartet members. The CRI recording of the New York String Quartet performing “Black Angels” creates an opportunity for listeners to appreciate this rich and dramatic work, as have the company’s recordings of so many other new musical compositions. Selected for the 2010 registry.

  17. “For the Roses” (album). Joni Mitchell. (1972)

    In “For the Roses,” Joni Mitchell took the confessional lyrics of her critically-acclaimed “Blue” album and infused them with touches of jazz. The result is a mélange of folk, rock, jazz and country that retains the heartfelt tone of her earlier work, but presents it on a broader canvas. While Mitchell later delved more deeply into jazz, “For the Roses” remains the album in which all the elements of her creative palette are in perfect balance. Selected for the 2007 registry

  18. The old foghorn, Kewaunee, Wisconsin. Recorded by James A. Lipsky. (1972)

    In the late 19th century, Kewaunee, Wisconsin, one of the great maritime ports of the northern Great Lakes, sought to challenge Chicago as Lake Michigan’s supreme port city. Its car ferry and rail-loading tracks were constructed in 1891 within a vast program of harbor improvements with an eye toward this goal. Its iconic foghorn was installed in 1906. However, in time, improved rail connections to other cities led to the ultimate decline of the port; hence, Kewaunee’s ambitious aspirations were short lived. This recording preserves lost sounds of the once bustling northern lake port. The port’s original fog signal was removed in 1981 when an automated signal was installed. Selected for the 2005 registry.

  19. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (album). The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. (1972)

    For “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, previously known for their country-rock and jug band music, brought together a stellar group of musical giants of country music for an unprecedented collaboration. The recordings, made in Nashville, showcased traditional songs and country music classics with guest performances by Doc Watson, Roy Acuff, Jimmy Martin, Maybelle Carter, Merle Travis and Earl Scruggs. The resulting three-LP set introduced acoustic country music to a new generation of audiences and revived the careers of several of its guest performers. Selected for the 2005 registry.

  20. “Burnin'” (album). The Wailers. (1973)

    This 1973 release was the last album reggae master Bob Marley released under the name The Wailers and featured the final performances of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer within the group. While the group was rhythmically tight, Marley’s role on this album is predominant. The album covers a variety of topics and moods from the militancy of “Get Up, Stand Up” and “I Shot the Sheriff” to the heartfelt rage and poverty-induced despair of “Burnin’ and Lootin’.” The final track, the traditional “Rastaman Chant,” sounds a more redemptive note. These themes continued in Marley’s work after he left the earlier Wailers lineup and became an internationally acclaimed solo artist. Selected for the 2006 registry.

  21. “Head Hunters” (album). Herbie Hancock. (1973)

    “Head Hunters” is a pivotal work in the career of Herbie Hancock; it was his first true fusion recording. Possessing all the sensibilities of jazz but with R&B and funk soul rhythms, “Head Hunters” had a mass appeal that made it the greatest-selling jazz album in history at the time of its release. The recording is notable for its use of an extremely wide range of instruments, including electric synthesizers which brought that new instrument to the forefront of jazz for the first time. Hancock’s experiments caused controversy among jazz purists, many of whom at the time belittled it as “pop.” “Head Hunters” proved to be influential not only to jazz, but also to funk, soul and hip hop musicians. Selected for the 2007 registry.

  22. “Live in Japan” (album). Sarah Vaughan. (1973)

    Captivating performances by singer Sarah Vaughan, who Gunther Schuller once called “the greatest vocal artist of our century,” are preserved in this two-LP set. The 1973 recording is an excellent example of Sarah Vaughan’s range of talents: her stunning virtuosity, glorious instrument, heartfelt interpretations, and ease of performing before a live audience. It features several signature tunes, including “Summertime” and “Poor Butterfly.” “Live in Japan” was produced relatively late in Vaughan’s career and illustrates that, unlike most singers, Vaughan’s voice seemed to grow richer, stronger and more versatile as she aged. Selected for the 2006 registry.

  23. “Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Gospel Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey” (album). Thomas Dorsey, Marion Williams, and others. (1973)

    Composer of many enduring gospel classics, Thomas A. Dorsey is considered to be the Father of Gospel Music. The recording features Dorsey’s recounting of his life, as well as contemporary performances of his greatest works. Selected for the 2002 registry.

  24. Crescent City Living Legends Collection. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation archive/WWOZ New Orleans. (1973-1990)

    This collection of tapes in the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Archive contains an outstanding array of interviews, live concert recordings, and radio broadcasts of Big Easy musicians including Clifton Chenier, Professor Longhair, Queen Ida, and others, culled from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Selected for the 2002 registry.

  25. “A Prairie Home Companion.” First broadcast. (July 6, 1974)

    Garrison Keillor, writer and humorist, began broadcasting his radio variety program, “A Prairie Home Companion,” for Minnesota Public Radio in 1974. In the show, Keillor weaves together regional humor, musical guests, comical advertisements for imaginary products, and extraordinary monologues about his fictional creation, Lake Wobegon. Thirty years after its inception, the radio variety program is still heard on more than 500 public radio stations nationwide. Selected for the 2003 registry.

    Part 1 / Part 2 /Part 3 / Part 4

Posted by Larry Carta

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