‘Library of Congress: National Registry of Music’ – Entries Since 1960 (Part 4)

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 final 25.

Be sure to visit all four pages

Part 1 / Part 2 /Part 3 / Part 4


  1. “Born to Run” (album). Bruce Springsteen. (1975)

    Singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen, whose live performances are renowned for their energy and passion, burst onto the rock scene in the early 1970s, a time when many believed that rock was in need of new lifeblood. Billed early in his career as “the next Bob Dylan,” his music evolved into a unique synthesis of early rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, folk, gospel, and country. Though “Born to Run” was Springsteen’s third LP, it was the first in which he fully realized the sound that would earn him the title “The Boss.” Not coincidentally, it was also his first album to feature the revamped lineup of his dynamic E Street Band featuring saxophone player Clarence Clemons, second guitarist “Miami” Steve Van Zandt, organist Danny Federici, pianist Roy Bittan, bassist Garry Tallent, and drummer Max Weinberg. In addition to the title song, the album contains such Springsteen anthems as “Thunder Road,” “Backstreets,” and “She’s the One.” Selected for the 2003 registry.

  2. “Horses” (album). Patti Smith. (1975)

    Before recording this proto-punk classic, Patti Smith and her band had honed the tunes in a triumphant run of shows at New York’s CBGB’s. In the studio, producer John Cale helped the band to further refine the selections in a process that Smith remembers as not always pleasant, but as greatly beneficial to the final product. Smith’s background as a rock critic and poet are equally in evidence on this record which includes re-imaginings of such oldies as “Gloria” and “Land, of a thousand dances” with the addition of Smith’s provocative and uncompromising lyrics. Selected for the 2009 registry.

  3. “Live at Yankee Stadium” (album). The Fania All-Stars. (1975)

    The All-Stars are the house band of Fania Records, one of the U.S.’s most significant Latin music record labels. The All-Stars popularized New York City salsa during the 1970s through their concerts at the Red Garter in Greenwich Village, Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, and Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This two-LP set features top salsa singers Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Miranda, Justo Betancourt, Ismael Quintana, Pete “Conde” Rodriguez, Bobby Cruz, and Santos Colon. Selected for the 2003 registry.

  4. “Mothership Connection.” Parliament. (1975)

    “Ain’t nothin’ but a party, y’all” intones George Clinton on the title track of this lively and unbelievably rhythmic funk album.  While this undeniably is a party record, it is also rooted in the deepest currents of African-American musical culture and history.  For example, the words “Swing down, sweet chariot/Stop, and let me ride” are an unmistakable reference to the influential spiritual recorded by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.  The album was released in late 1975 shortly after the arrival to Parliament of saxophonist Maceo Parker and trombonist and arranger extraordinaire Fred Wesley.  Like Parker and Wesley, bass player Bootsy Collins, dubbed by one critic a “bass deity,” had played with pioneer of funk James Brown.  Add to such assembled talent the classically trained Bernie Worrell whose synthesizer conjures galaxies of  cosmic sound, but whose piano, as heard on the track “P-Funk,” evokes the ethereal chords of jazz pianist McCoy Tyner.  DJ, conductor, arranger and wild lyricist George Clinton oversees the whole, providing an amazing range of space characters (Lollipop Man, Star Child) outlandish vocabulary (“supergroovalistic,” “prosifunkstication”) and all-around funkiness.  The album has had an enormous influence on jazz, rock and dance music. Selected for the 2011 registry.

  5. “Red Headed Stranger” (album). Willie Nelson. (1975)

    At the time composer and performer Willie Nelson recorded “Red Headed Stranger,” he had just moved to Columbia Records with a contract that gave him complete artistic control. The new freedom allowed him to compose an album of uncommon elegance and power, one built primarily of his own compositions, but including older country songs like Fred Rose’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” Set in the Old West, it told the tale of a tormented preacher on the run from killing his wife and her lover. In the studio, Nelson relied on extremely spare arrangements which emphasized guitar, harmonica and piano. At times the only accompaniment was Nelson’s nylon-string guitar. The resulting album was met with considerable skepticism from Columbia’s executives, but Nelson’s instincts proved prescient and “Red Headed Stranger” resonated with an audience weary of the elaborate production techniques associated with Nashville studios, setting a new course for country and popular music.Selected for the 2009 registry.

  6. “Songs in the Key of Life” (album). Stevie Wonder. (1976)

    In addition to Stevie Wonder’s impeccable musicianship, this album features contributions from Nathan Watts (bass), Raymond Pounds (drums), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards), Ben Bridges and Mike Sembello (guitar) and a guest appearance by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. To produce the album, Wonder and the group worked in the studio relentlessly for two years, occasionally logging sessions of 48 hours in duration. These efforts paid off with a number of excellent jazz, blues and gospel-influenced songs including “I Wish” and “Pastime Paradise.” The album also includes the Duke Ellington tribute “Sir Duke,” in which Wonder acknowledges his debt to the African-American musical tradition. Selected for the 2005 registry.

  7. Ronald Reagan radio broadcasts. (1976-1979)

    This collection of over 1,000 radio broadcast recordings, the majority penned by Ronald Reagan himself, documents the development of his political vision in the years immediately preceding his election to the White House. In the broadcasts, Reagan sounded what would become the familiar themes of his presidency: reduction of government spending, tax cuts, supply-side economics and anti-communism. These radio “chats” did not focus on specific policy prescriptions as much as they outlined a conservative governing philosophy. Also showcased is Reagan’s conversational, folksy rhetorical style, which adds immeasurably to his public appeal. Selected for the 2007 registry.

  8. “Aja” (album). Steely Dan. (1977)

    “Aja” is an apotheosis of jazz-pop, a seamless fusion of jazz, pop and blues crafted with meticulous precision. Swimming against the tides of then-popular punk rock and disco, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan created an adult pop album—lyrically cynical and cryptic, melodically rich, and musically dense. The impeccable playing by a number of world-class musicians helped to achieve a musical whole even greater than the sum of its impressive parts. Selected for the 2010 registry.

  9. “I Feel Love.” Donna Summer. (1977)

    Brian Eno famously declared after hearing Donna Summer’s single “I Feel Love” that the track would “change the sound of club music for the next 15 years.”  Summer wrote the song in collaboration with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Belotte, who felt that the song was supposed to represent the music of the future and should be entirely electronic.  Consequently, they hired Robbie Wedel who brought four cases of Moog synthesizer to the session and which produced nearly all the sounds on the record, including synthesized bass drums and cymbals. Particularly notable was the bass line which Belotte has described as “a giant’s hammer on a wall.”  When the thunderous sound was combined with Summer’s breathy and ethereal vocal, the cut, as Eno predicted, took the clubs by storm.  Partly through the involvement of Patrick Cowley, who made remixes of 15 and 8 minutes lengths, the song won particular popularity in gay dance clubs and soon achieved the status of an anthem in the LGBT community. Selected for the 2011 registry.

  10. “Murmurs of the Earth.” Disc prepared for the Voyager spacecraft. (1977)

    This disc was prepared to introduce aurally our planet to any alien intelligence that might encounter the Voyager spacecraft many millions of years in the future. The disc contains encoded photographs, spoken messages, music and sounds as well as greetings delivered in 55 languages. The sound essay includes life sounds (EEGs and EKGs), birds, elephants, whales, volcanoes, rain and a baby. The 90 minutes of music features selections ranging from ragas to Navajo Indian chants, Javanese court gamelan, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, a Peruvian Woman’s Wedding song, and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Selected for the 2007 registry.

  11. “Star Wars” (album). John Williams. (1977)

    This soundtrack score has been credited with reviving symphonic film scores in Hollywood motion pictures. The recording was a bestseller, its themes well remembered and often quoted. When the blockbuster motion picture was released in 1977, home video did not exist; hence, it was the soundtrack recording which enabled audiences to evoke images from the film in their living rooms. Selected for the 2004 registry.

  12. Barton Hall Concert by the Grateful Dead. (May 8, 1977)

    The rock band Grateful Dead was known for its eclectic style that drew on many genres of popular and vernacular music, an improvisational foundation, and a commitment to touring and “live” performances.  The Dead was one of the few musical groups to not only allow, but encourage fans to record its concerts, offering tickets to a special “tapers” section at their shows. The organized trading of Grateful Dead tapes goes back at least to 1971 with the formation of the First Free Underground Grateful Dead Tape Exchange.  Fans of the Grateful Dead will never completely agree about which of their over 2,300 concerts was the best, but there is some consensus about the tape of their May 8, 1977, performance at Barton Hall, Cornell University. The soundboard recording of this show has achieved almost mythic status among “Dead Head” tape traders because of its excellent sound quality and early accessibility, as well as its musical performances. Selected for the 2011 registry.

  13. “Rapper’s Delight.” Sugarhill Gang. (1979)

    The Sugarhill Gang’s infectious dance number from late 1979 might be said to have launched an entire genre.  Although spoken word had been a component of recorded American popular music for decades, this trio’s rhythmic rhyming inspired many MC’s-to-be and other future rap artists. The album version of “Rapper’s Delight” is an epic 14‑1/2 minute salvo of irreverent stories and creative word play.  The song dates from hip-hop’s infancy.  As such, it does not address subject matter that has given rap music both positive and negative notoriety, but the song’s inventive rhymes, complex counter-rhythms, and brash boastfulness presage the tenets of hip hop.  “Rapper’s Delight” also reflects an early instance of music sampling and a legal settlement; it draws its bass line and other features from Chic’s 1979 hit “Good Times.”  As a result, songwriting credits for “Rapper’s Delight” include that song’s composers, Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards, as well as Sylvia Robinson and the Sugarhill Gang (Michael Wright, Guy O’Brien, and Henry Jackson). Selected for the 2011 registry.

  14. “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” George Jones. (1980)

    George Jones has said that he initially thought “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was too sad to be very popular, but, at one of the lowest points of his career and personal life, he made it one of country music’s most defining and enduring songs. Billy Sherrill’s restrained production highlighted the plaintive yet highly nuanced vocals that are the hallmark of Jones’ mature style but which also stretch back to his days singing for tips in the streets of his hometown, Beaumont, Texas, in the 1940s. Selected for the 2008 registry.

  15. “Radio Free Europe.” R.E.M. (1981)

    The original Hib-Tone single of this song set the pattern for later indie rock releases by breaking through on college radio stations targeted by label owner and producer Jonny Hibbert, in the face of mainstream radio’s general indifference. Although a more elaborately produced version of the song appeared on the band’s first album “Murmur,” the original maintains a raw immediacy that undoubtedly contributed to its overwhelmingly favorable critical reception. Singer Michael Stipe’s elliptical lyrics and guitarist Peter Buck’s arpeggiated open chords would not only become signatures of the band’s future output, but they added greatly to the song’s enigmatic appeal. Selected for the 2009 registry.

  16. “The Message.” Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. (1982)

    Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five was a pivotal group in the early days of rap, developing crucial aspects of the genre. Their 1982 hit, “The Message,” is significant because of its focus on urban social issues–a course followed by many later rap artists. Selected for the 2002 registry.

  17. “Thriller” (album). Michael Jackson. (1982)

    Michael Jackson’s second album with legendary producer Quincy Jones attained stratospheric national and international success. Featuring outstanding guest performances by Paul McCartney on “The Girl is Mine” and Eddie Van Halen on “Beat It,” the album’s influence on the record industry and subsequent popular music is immeasurable. The album also includes the strong disco-inflected “Billie Jean” and the compelling title track “Thriller,” featuring an eerie voice-over by Vincent Price. Jackson’s keen pop sensibilities, the performances by a wide range of talented musicians and Quincy Jones’ expert production all contributed to making “Thriller” the best-selling album of all time. Selected for the 2007 registry.

  18. “Purple Rain.” Prince. (1984)

    Prince was already a hit-maker and a critically acclaimed artist when his sixth album, the soundtrack for his 1984 movie debut, launched him into superstardom.  Earlier, he had played all the instruments on his records to get the sounds he wanted, but now he led an integrated band of men and women who could realize the dense, ambitious fusion that he sought, blending funk, synth-pop, and soul with guitar-based rock and a lyrical sensibility that mixed the psychedelic and the sensual.  Prince experimented throughout the album, dropping the bass line from “When Doves Cry” to fashion a one-of-a-kind sound, and mixing analog and electronic percussion frequently.  Portions of “Purple Rain” were recorded live at the First Avenue Club in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, and the success of the album served notice that the Twin Cities were a major center for pop music as numerous rock and R&B artists from the region emerged in its wake.  Like much of Prince’s other work, “Purple Rain” was provocative and controversial, and some of its most explicit lyrics led directly to the founding of the Parents Music Resource Center. Selected for the 2011 registry.

  19. Recordings of Asian elephants. Katharine B. Payne. (1984)

    Katharine B. Payne’s recordings of Asian elephants revealed that the animals use infrasonic sounds to communicate with one another. Such acoustic monitoring of the mammals has provided important insights into the mechanisms by which matrilineal groups of elephants maintain distance among one another over time and how males locate receptive females. In addition, the use of recordings has proven a very effective method for surveying populations of elephants. It has opened new windows into the complex lives of elephants and provided a tool for conservation. The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at Cornell University holds this important collection.Selected for the 2004 registry.

  20. “Graceland” (album). Paul Simon. (1986)

    On “Graceland,” Paul Simon not only incorporated a great number of musical styles, including zydeco, Tex-Mex and African vocal music, but also showcased the talents of many accomplished musicians. The recording features Linda Ronstadt, Adrian Belew, Los Lobos, the Everly Brothers and Youssou N’dour. The album is probably best known for Simon’s collaboration with the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. “Graceland” fueled that group’s rise to international fame. Selected for the 2006 registry.

  21. GOPAC Strategy and Instructional Tapes. (1986-1994)

    GOPAC is a non-profit organization established in 1978 to develop and educate conservative leaders in the U.S., and to provide support to Republican candidates running for local, state and national offices. Among the most effective and best-known tools developed by GOPAC are instructional tape recordings made by Republican leaders. The tapes inform GOPAC members and aspiring politicians of conservative positions and assist them in articulating and honing their language and message on a wide array of issues, as well as providing “how-to” primers on everything involved in running an effective political campaign. The recordings have proved to be extremely influential in shaping political discourse from the 1980s to the present. Selected for the 2010 registry.

  22. “Daydream Nation” (album). Sonic Youth. (1988)

    Pioneer members of New York City’s clangorous early 1980s No Wave scene, Sonic Youth are renowned for a glorious form of noise-based chaos. Guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo had previously performed with Glenn Branca’s large guitar ensembles, and their alternative guitar tunings and ringing harmonies attest to this apprenticeship. On “Daydream Nation,” their breakthrough album, the group’s forays into outright noise always return to melodic songs that employ hypnotic arpeggios, driving punk rock rhythmic figures and furious gales of guitar-based noise. Bassist Kim Gordon’s haunting vocals and edgy lyrics add additional depth to the numbers she sings. Selected for the 2005 registry.

  23. “3 Feet High and Rising” (album). De La Soul. (1989)

    Bucking hip-hop’s increasing turn toward stark urban naturalism in the late 1980s, De La Soul released this upbeat and often humorous album to widespread acclaim in the U.S. and abroad. The trio—Kelvin Mercer (Posdnuos), David Jolicoeur (Trugoy) and Vincent Mason (DJ Maseo)—was ably assisted by producer Prince Paul (Paul Huston) who has reported that these were some of the most productive, creative and entertaining sessions he ever worked on. For the album, the group marshaled an astonishing range of samples that included not only soul and R&B classics by Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays, but also Steely Dan’s “Aja” and cuts by Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, Kraftwerk, Hall and Oates, and Liberace. Perhaps the most far-flung sample is a snippet of New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia reading the comics over the radio in 1945. Selected for the 2010 registry.

  24. “Fear of a Black Planet” (album). Public Enemy. (1990)

    “Fear of a Black Planet” brought hip hop respect from critics, millions of new fans, and a passionate debate over its political content. The album signaled the coupling of a strongly political message with hip hop music. Its hit single, “Fight the Power,” was the theme for Spike Lee’s powerful film, “Do the Right Thing.” Public Enemy forged a new sound for hip hop that included funk rhythms, samples from James Brown and Eric Clapton, and “found” sounds. Selected for the 2004 registry.

  25. “Nevermind” (album). Nirvana. (1991)

    This surprising chartbuster from a grunge band from Aberdeen, Washington, brought to the public’s attention a new, heavily distorted sound that would catch on and prove an enduring influence in rock. Characterized by raw vocals, driving rhythms and surprising shifts in dynamics, the record resonated with America’s youth and climbed to number one on the “Billboard” charts, selling over 10 million copies. Selected for the 2004 registry.

  26. “Dear Mama.” Tupac Shakur. (1995)

    In this moving and eloquent homage to both his own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty, and societal indifference, Tupac Shakur unflinchingly forgives his mother who, despite a cocaine habit, “never kept a secret, always stayed real.” The song displays further evidence of hip hop as a musically sophisticated and varied genre which can artfully encompass a wide variety of themes and musical influences. Selected for the 2009 registry.

    Part 1 / Part 2 /Part 3 / Part 4


Posted by Larry Carta

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