Songs of the Week: Library of Congress Edition

Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic

Each year, this frat house they call the Library of Congress picks 25 recordings regarded as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and adds them to their selective collection. It’s a big deal, much like someone adding a song to their Friday Night Spotify playlist, and then you get a notification that the person added a song to their Friday Night Spotify playlist, because you follow their Friday Night playlist on Spotify. 

When the news came out, most of the attention went to the big additions — OK Computer by Radiohead, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill, The Doors by the Doors, Joan Baez by Joan Baez.

And yes, some couldn’t resist the urge to go there.

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You can see the full list here, but we’re going to focus on some of the less-buzzed-about works that were added this week.

Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Tons”

This video is from 1956 and I’m shaking because it’s such a banger. Do you see the mustache on my man Tennessee Ernie Ford? And that snap, my LORD. I can’t believe it took so long for this to make it in. Also, I can’t believe I’m hearing this song for the first time. Can’t wait for Drake to rap over this in four months.

Sly & the Family Stone, Stand!

This is Sly & the Family Stone performing “Don’t Call Me N​-​-​-​-​-, Whitey” right into “I Want to Take You Higher” in 1969. There’s really nothing else to say.

The Swan Silvertones, “Mary Don’t You Weep”

An amazing thing about classic songs is that they’re great, and then Aretha Franklin gets ahold of them, and then they get better. Here’s one example:

Yes, that’s Aretha sitting next to Don Cornelius on Soul Train, performing “Mary Don’t You Weep” in 1979. Yes, you just watched that.

Johnny Mercer, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”

Shout-out Johnny Mercer, but here comes Aretha again. She has no chill. Zero whatsoever.

Joan Tower, “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman”

You know the old saying, “Too many Coplands on your team, that’s why your wins low”? Everyone talks about “Fanfare for the Common Man,” but what about my girl Joan Tower’s “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman”?

Here’s the world premiere of Part 3 of the latter “Fanfare,” performed at Carnegie Hall in 1991. I can’t stress enough how lit this is.

Sesame StreetAll-Time Platinum Favorites

On this compilation, “I Love Trash,” from 1969, is sung by an orange (not green) Oscar the Grouch.

Poor Oscar. Never got to say what he really felt, which 100 percent was this.

Blind Lemon Jefferson, “Black Snake Moan”/“Matchbox Blues”

Lemon Henry Jefferson was born in 1893. He was blind, so he went by Blind Lemon Jefferson. Some say he was the Trey Songz of his time.

“Black Snake Moan”

“Matchbox Blues”

After hearing these two incredible songs, it’s clear that the Trey Songz comparison might not be exactly accurate. Definitely Tyrese.

Cole Porter, Kiss Me, Kate (Original Cast Album)

Controversial opinion alert: Kiss Me, Kate isn’t Cole Porter’s best musical. Sue me, but Anything Goes is obviously CP at his finest, but perhaps I’m just partial to people singing on large boats. No disrespect to Kiss Me, Kate and this achievement, but here’s Ethel Merman singing “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” from Anything Goes in 1954 on The Colgate Comedy Hour, alongside Frank Sinatra.

Filed Under: Music, Library of Congress, Songs of the Week, COLE PORTER, Blind Lemon Jefferson, aretha franklin, sesame street, Joan Tower, Johnny mercer, The Swan Silvertones, sly & the family stone

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert