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The Ultimate 20th-Century Mixtape

Posted by Gabe Meline on Jun 23, 2010 | Comments (0)

There’s something wonderfully classicist about this list of recordings to be inducted today for posterity into the Library of Congress—a routine harvest of select songs and albums, from the millions out there, chosen for their “cultural significance.” I mean, Tupac, Patti Smith and Willie Nelson alongside Morton Subotnick, King Creole and “When You Wish Upon a Star”? Bill Evans’ Complete Village Vanguard Recordings seals the deal—I feel like I’m flipping through the LoC’s record collection, going daaammnn. This is, like, the ultimate 20th-century mixtape.

Tupac’s getting the most attention here, whether from commenters who still think hip-hop is the ruin of society or East Coasters eager to revive the Biggie war. But if Tupac’s inclusion inspires even a couple hundred people to listen to “Dear Mama” for the first time, the world is already a better, more empathetic place.

Here’s Brett Zongker’s AP article explaining the selection process, and below is the complete, near-impeccable list.

• “Fon der Choope” (From the Wedding), Abe Elenkrig’s Yidishe Orchestra (1913)

• “Canal Street Blues,” King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band (1923)

Tristan und Isolde, Metropolitan Opera, featuring Kirsten Flagstad and Lauritz Melchior (NBC Broadcast of March 9, 1935)

• “When You Wish Upon a Star,” Cliff Edwards (recorded, 1938; released, 1940)

• “America’s Town Meeting of the Air: Should Our Ships Convoy Materials to England?”(May 8, 1941)

• The Library of Congress Marine Corps Combat Field Recording Collection, Second Battle of Guam (July 20 – August 11, 1944)

• “Evangeline Special” and “Love Bridge Waltz,” Iry LeJeune (1948)

• “The Little Engine That Could,” narrated by Paul Wing (1949)

• Leon Metcalf Collection of recordings of the First People of Western Washington State (1950-1954)

• “Tutti Frutti,” Little Richard (1955)

• “Smokestack Lightning,” Howlin’ Wolf (1956)

Gypsy, original cast recording (1959)

The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, Bill Evans Trio (June 25, 1961)

• “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two),” Max Mathews (1961)

I Started Out As a Child, Bill Cosby (1964)

Azucar Pa Ti, Eddie Palmieri (1965)

Today!, Mississippi John Hurt (1966)

Silver Apples of the Moon, Morton Subotnick (1967)

Soul Folk in Action, The Staple Singers (1968)

The Band, The Band (1969)

Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn (1970)

Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson (1975)

Horses, Patti Smith (1975)

• “Radio Free Europe,” R.E.M. (1981)

• “Dear Mama,” Tupac Shakur (1995)


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