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News Archive: 2024

National Recording Registry Inducts Sounds of ABBA, Blondie, The Cars, The Chicks, Juan Gabriel, Green Day, The Notorious B.I.G. and Lily Tomlin
Posted April 22, 2024

The National Recording Registry is a list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States." The registry was established by the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, which created the National Recording Preservation Board, whose members are appointed by the Librarian of Congress. The list of 25 recordings selected for 2024 include Gene Autry's record "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

For detailed information and history on Gene Autry and "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" visit our special Christmas Cowboy Section here.

Released April 16, 2024
Library of Congress,

National Recording Registry Inducts Sounds of ABBA, Blondie, The Cars, The Chicks, Juan Gabriel, Green Day, The Notorious B.I.G. and Lily Tomlin

Recordings from Gene Autry, Jefferson Airplane, Perry Como, Kronos Quartet, Johnny Mathis, Bobby McFerrin, Patti Page, Also Among 25 Selected for Preservation

ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” Blondie’s era-defining “Parallel Lines,” The Notorious B.I.G.’s landmark “Ready to Die,” Green Day’s “Dookie,” The Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” and Lily Tomlin’s comedy have been selected as some of the defining sounds of history and culture that will join the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today named 25 recordings as audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage.

The 2024 class of inductees also includes Gene Autry’s “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” The Cars’ debut album, Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star” / “Magic Moments,” Juan Gabriel’s heartbreaking “Amor Eterno,” Héctor Lavoe’s salsa hit “El Cantante,” Kronos Quartet’s “Pieces of Africa,” Johnny Mathis’ “Chances Are,” Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” Patti Page’s “Tennessee Waltz,” and Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

“The Library of Congress is proud to preserve the sounds of American history and our diverse culture through the National Recording Registry,” Hayden said. “We have selected audio treasures worthy of preservation with our partners this year, including a wide range of music from the past 100 years, as well as comedy. We were thrilled to receive a record number of public nominations, and we welcome the public’s input on what we should preserve next.”

The recordings selected for the National Recording Registry bring the number of titles on the registry to 650, representing a small portion of the national library’s vast recorded sound collection of nearly 4 million items.

The latest selections named to the registry span from 1919 to 1998. They range from the recordings of the all-Black 369th U.S. Infantry Band led by James Reese Europe after World War I, to defining sounds of jazz and bluegrass, and iconic recordings from pop, dance, country, rock, rap, Latin and classical music.

“For the past 21 years the National Recording Preservation Board has provided musical expertise, historical perspective and deep knowledge of recorded sound to assist the Librarian in choosing landmark recordings to be inducted into the Library’s National Recording Registry,” said Robbin Ahrold, chair of the National Recording Preservation Board. “The board again this year is pleased to join the Librarian in highlighting influential works in our diverse sound heritage, as well as helping to spread the word on the National Recording Registry through their own social media and streaming media campaigns.”

Listen to many of the recordings on your favorite streaming service. The Digital Media Association, a member of the National Recording Preservation Board, compiled a list of some streaming services with National Recording Registry playlists, available here.

NPR’s “1A” will feature selections in the series, “The Sounds of America,” about this year’s National Recording Registry, including interviews with Hayden and several featured artists in the weeks ahead. Follow the conversation about the registry on Instagram, Threads and X/Twitter @librarycongress and #NatRecRegistry.

Recordings Selected for the 2024 National Recording Registry
(chronological order)

  • “Clarinet Marmalade” – Lt. James Reese Europe’s 369th U.S. Infantry Band (1919)
  • “Kauhavan Polkka” – Viola Turpeinen and John Rosendahl (1928)
  • Wisconsin Folksong Collection (1937-1946)
  • “Rose Room” – Benny Goodman Sextet with Charlie Christian (1939)
  • “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Gene Autry (1949)
  • “Tennessee Waltz” – Patti Page (1950)
  • “Rocket ‘88’” – Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats (1951)
  • “Catch a Falling Star” / ”Magic Moments” – Perry Como (1957)
  • “Chances Are” – Johnny Mathis (1957)
  • “The Sidewinder” – Lee Morgan (1964)
  • “Surrealistic Pillow” – Jefferson Airplane (1967)
  • “Ain’t No Sunshine” – Bill Withers (1971)
  • “This is a Recording” – Lily Tomlin (1971)
  • “J.D. Crowe & the New South” – J.D. Crowe & the New South (1975)
  • “Arrival” – ABBA (1976)
  • “El Cantante” – Héctor Lavoe (1978)
  • “The Cars” – The Cars (1978)
  • “Parallel Lines” – Blondie (1978)
  • “La-Di-Da-Di” – Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick (MC Ricky D) (1985)
  • “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin (1988)
  • “Amor Eterno” – Juan Gabriel (1990)
  • “Pieces of Africa” – Kronos Quartet (1992)
  • “Dookie” – Green Day (1994)
  • “Ready to Die” – The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
  • “Wide Open Spaces” – The Chicks (1998)

A record 2,899 nominations were made by the public this year for recordings to consider adding to the registry. The public can submit nominations throughout the year on the Library’s web site Nominations for next year will be accepted until Oct. 1, 2024. The public may nominate recordings for the Registry here.

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong Reflects on “Dookie”
(video available)

Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer and songwriter for Green Day, said that the band wasn’t thinking of making a generation-defining album of the mid-1990s when they starting work on “Dookie,” their breakout record, in 1994.

"We always wanted to be in this band forever,” Armstrong said in an interview with the Library. “I think in the back of our minds was to be able to play music together for the rest of our lives. So that's, that's quite a goal when you're 20 or 21 years old. But, you know, we've managed to do it, and it's just been an amazing journey so far."

One of the standout songs on the album was “Welcome to Paradise,” a song that Armstrong drew from his own life. He grew up in Rodale, California, then moved to West Oakland, living for a while in an abandoned industrial warehouse with more than a dozen other “punks, runaways and artists.”

The album has lasted three decades, he says because, “the lyrics are just so honest and from where my life was at that time.”

Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein Discuss “Parallel Lines”
(video available)

Blondie was a New York band finding its way in the mid 1970s, deeply enmeshed in the city’s arts scene, but having more success in Europe after two albums than in the states. Lead singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein counted a young Jean-Michel Basquiat as a friend; the pair bought his first painting on canvas for a couple hundred dollars. They lived in a rough neighborhood, just off the Bowery and a few doors down from CBGB’s, which would become the epicenter of punk rock.

Then came “Parallel Lines,” their 1978 album that helped define New Wave music, spawning the massive hit “Heart of Glass” and putting them in the top tier of rock acts.

“‘Heart of Glass’ was the turning point,” Stein said in a joint interview with Harry. “That was just nuts what happened with that.”

The group was paired with producer Mike Chapman for the album. Chapman had a sharp ear for radio hits. In the studio, he didn’t have them play together as they had recorded in the past, but had them play individually, then stacked the tracks on top of another to assemble the record. It made the group much more “precise,” Harry said.

Still, Harry said executives at Chrysalis Records weren’t happy when they first heard an album featuring “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another” and future album-rock favorites such as “Sunday Girl” and “Picture This.”

“The record company didn’t like it,” she said. “They didn’t hear any hits.”

But while Blondie went on to a career that featured platinum albums, No. 1 hits and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, both say that Blondie’s existence has always been more about pushing artistic boundaries than just pursuit of pop hits.

“The old problems of art and commerce are sometimes very restrictive,” Harry said, “and I think that we, somehow being a bit of a fringe element, got to do some things that were, you know, groundbreaking.”

Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and Jorma Kaukonen Recall “Surrealistic Pillow”
(video available)

Jefferson Airplane brought the San Francisco hippie scene of the mid-1960s to the rest of the nation, knocking out psychedelic hits such as “White Rabbit” in concert halls even as tour busses trundled through their Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to get a glimpse of the wild side.

Their album, “Surrealistic Pillow,” made an indelible mark on the era, with “Somebody to Love” joining “Rabbit” as a major hit. The band would go on to play at both Woodstock and Altamont music festivals and become synonymous with rock music for a generation of rock fans.

“We thought that we invented sex, drugs and rock and roll, and we might have invented some rock and roll, but I don’t think we had much to do with inventing the other two,” Jorma Kaukonen, the band’s lead guitarist, told the Library in recent interview about the album joining the recording registry.

The national focus on San Francisco’s young and trippy scene was not entirely fun, particularly the bus tours that rumbled through the neighborhood.

“It was amusing and annoying at the same time,” remembers lead singer Grace Slick, “‘Cause you’re kind of these freaks that everybody’s coming to look at. It was like being in a zoo or something.”

Slick wrote “White Rabbit” based on Lewis Carroll’s children’s novel, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” The Victorian story became a classic. Slick read it as a child and, as many others had, took Alice’s surreal experiences “down the rabbit hole” (with a fussy white rabbit as her guide) as a metaphor for drug use. “Go ask Alice,” she intones over the song’s march-like bass line, referring to an incident in the book, “when she’s 10 feet tall.”

The song was “a shot” at her parents’ generation, she said, who thought little of their own alcohol use but excoriated ‘60s kids for smoking marijuana and dropping acid.

Juan Gabriel’s Son, Ivan Gabriel Aguilera, Reflects on “Amor Eterno”
(video available)

Juan Gabriel’s “Amor Eterno,” a heartrending ballad he wrote in memory of his deceased mother, has long been a staple in the singer’s native Mexico and across Latin America, and this year it joins the National Recording Registry.

Gabriel died in 2016 at the age of 66, but his son, Ivan Gabriel Aguilera, said his father would have been thrilled to see one of his most famous songs be enshrined in the registry. Aguilera talked with the Library about the song’s induction into the registry in Spanish.

“Yo creo que las generaciones en el futuro, eso es lo que él siempre quiso, que vea su música y que se le aplique a su vida también. Había algo que él siempre decía. que mientras el público, la gente, siga cantando mi música, Juan Gabriel nunca va a morir, y es bonito ver eso está pasando aquí.”

Translation: “I believe that future generations – that's what he always wanted – that they see his music and make it relatable to their lives as well. He would always say that ‘as long as the public, people, keep singing my music, Juan Gabriel will never die,’ and it's nice to see that happening here,” Aguilera said.

"Es algo maravilloso para nosotros, es un gran honor, es un gran honor para mi papá; yo creo que para su legado es algo de lo máximo. Como usted dice, va a estar inmortalizado allí en la Biblioteca del Congreso.”

Translation: “It’s something wonderful for us. It’s such a great honor. It’s a great honor for my dad. I think that for his legacy it is something great. As you say, he's going to be immortalized there in the Library of Congress,” Aguilera said.

Musician Booker T. Jones Recalls “Ain’t No Sunshine”
(video available)

Booker T. Jones, whose “Green Onions” album was enshrined in the National Recording Registry in 2011, was already a well-established musician and producer in Memphis and Los Angeles when a music executive sent an airplane factory worker named Bill Withers to Jones’ Malibu home in the early 1970s.

“He was wearing these overalls and some broke-ass boots; he was a carpenter,” Jones recalled in a recent interview. “Invited him into the living room. He picked up my guitar and started singing ‘Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…’ ” he sings, then chuckles. “So he kept singing and I walked out of the living room and picked up the phone and started making phone calls.”

He said the man’s talent was just that obvious.

“It was a strong voice singing original music in a simple way, unpretentious, like his personality. And there he was, right there in my house. And he didn’t know he was a star,” Jones said.

Jones produced the song as well as arranging the strings that play a key part in the composition. The song was a hit upon its 1971 release, winning the Grammy for Best R&B song the following year, and going on to become a standard of the era.

About the National Recording Registry

Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian of Congress, with advice from the National Recording Preservation Board, selects 25 titles each year that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. More information on the National Recording Registry can be found at The public may nominate recordings for the Registry here.

Some registry titles have already been preserved by the copyright holders, artists or other archives. In cases where a selected title has not already been preserved, the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center works to ensure that the recording will be preserved by some entity and available for future generations. This can be through the Library’s recorded-sound preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, studios and independent producers.

In addition to their work with the Registry, the Library and Board undertake preservation and access initiatives with archives and other organizations throughout the United States. As authorized by the legislation, the Librarian of Congress recently appointed seven new members to the Board of Directors of the Congressionally-chartered National Recording Preservation Foundation. For more information, visit the Foundation’s web page at:

The national library maintains a state-of-the-art facility where it acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings ( It is home to more than 10 million collection items.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at; and register creative works of authorship at

National Recording Registry, 2024 Selections (about each selection)

“Clarinet Marmalade” – Lt. James Reese Europe’s 369th U.S. Infantry (Hell Fighters) Band (1919) (single)

Having served in France during World War I, the all-Black 369th Infantry, known as “The Hellfighters,” returned to New York triumphantly on Feb. 17, 1919. Their band, led by composer and orchestra leader James Reese Europe, also made an enormous impression and received a hero’s welcome home. Shortly before beginning a national tour, the band began making a series of recordings for the American Pathé label. “Clarinet Marmalade” was a work composed by clarinetist Larry Shields and pianist Henry Ragas. It was recorded by Europe’s ensemble in 1919, and though their instrumentation was that of a standard military band, their delivery had a verve and abandon unheard of from such a group. “Clarinet Marmalade” was one of 24 titles released by Europe’s ensemble, which helped introduce a new Black American music to a welcoming public.

“Kauhavan Polkka” – Viola Turpeinen and John Rosendahl (1928) (single)

Viola Turpeinen was born to Finnish parents in Michigan in 1909 and took up the accordion at the age of 14. In 1926, she met violinist John Rosendahl, who had emigrated from Finland in his late teens in 1908. The two soon found success in Finnish and other Nordic communities of the Midwest, making their first recordings for Victor in January 1928. In “Kauhavan Polkka,” Turpeinen and Rosendahl seem to be urging each other on throughout as they might at a dance hall, challenging the dancers to match their tempo. Rosendahl died in 1931, but Turpeinen remained a highly popular performer with Finnish and other Nordic Americans. Her music reflected America’s melting pot in its blend of old and new Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and even Italian styles.

Wisconsin Folksong Collection (1937-1946) (collection)

Between 1937 and 1946, two women – Sidney Robertson of the Resettlement Administration and Helene Stratman-Thomas of the University of Wisconsin – traveled, with portable disc-cutting equipment, on behalf of the Library of Congress throughout the state of Wisconsin, recording roughly 900 folk songs and tunes representing the traditions of area occupations such as farmer, logger, railroad worker and Great Lakes sailor, as well as the entertainments and family life of 25 cultural and linguistic groups. These deep surveys vividly documented the rich musical pluralism and traditions that endure to this day.

“Rose Room” – Benny Goodman Sextet with Charlie Christian (1939) (single)

Guitarist Charlie Christian’s tenure with the Benny Goodman Sextet remains a pivotal moment in the development of jazz and amplified guitar in the 20th Century. The jazz standard “Rose Room” served as Christian’s impromptu audition with Benny Goodman’s hugely popular band. Producer John Hammond had recommended Christian to Goodman after hearing of the guitarist’s growing local reputation. Goodman’s initial skepticism was dispelled at a live date in Beverly Hills when Hammond helped Christian sneak his bulky amplifier onstage during intermission. Goodman’s surprise was evident, but since there was a live audience, the performance continued. Christian’s guitar wowed the audience with an extended 45-minute version of “Rose Room” with numerous choruses. Goodman was convinced. Part of Goodman’s skepticism was likely based on the supporting role that guitar had played in jazz. Since acoustic guitars were too quiet to project over an ensemble, they had usually been relegated to the rhythm section.

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Gene Autry (1949) (single)

Though he began his life as a marketing tool for Montgomery Ward, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (b. 1939) is, today, as much a part of our annual holiday season as trees and tinsel. Its popularity and endurance is largely due to multimedia cowboy star Gene Autry who recorded this song about the “most famous reindeer of them all” in 1949. Written by songwriter Johnny Marks, legend has it that Autry did not care for the tune but committed it to disc at the insistence of his wife. Later released by Columbia, “Rudolph” soon became a holiday classic. Today, it is a staple of innumerable holiday albums and programs, with the audience always singing along and knowing every word.

“Tennessee Waltz” – Patti Page (1950) (single)

This classic was written by two country music stalwarts, Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King in 1946 and saw its first recording – and initial success on the country chart – before the end of the decade. But it was in 1950, in a lush production and featuring the sweetly pained voice of Patti Page, that this “Waltz” became a popular music phenomenon. Originally intended as a B-side, “Tennessee Waltz” soon danced into the hearts of listeners where the lovely melody helped soften the sadness of the story told in its lyrics. Page’s recording would go on to define her considerable career. Since then, the song has become an enduring standard in a multitude of genres and eras.

“Rocket ‘88’” – Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats (1951) (single)

There are many candidates for the honor of having been the “first” rock and roll record, but “Rocket ‘88’” stands out due to its raucous blend of the styles that we now know helped give birth to the genre. Although it was released on the Chess Records label out of Chicago, it had been recorded and licensed to them by Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee, who would later make the first recordings of Elvis Presley on his own label, Sun. Willie Kizart’s distorted electric guitar riffing and group leader Ike Turner’s piano lines, which influenced Little Richard, provided a hard-charging swing over which singer Jackie Brenston’s sang the praises of partying in the latest postwar powerhouse automobile. “Rocket ‘88’” anticipated rock and roll like no other record of the time and helped to cultivate the integrated audience that would bring it to the mainstream a few years later.

“Catch a Falling Star” / ”Magic Moments” – Perry Como (1957) (single)

Perry Como was one of the mid-20th century’s extremely popular smooth male crooners. As a recording artist, Como was probably at his peak in the 1950s and early 1960s, when his velvety voice ushered in many now-standards to the world’s musical landscape. During his career, Como would achieve nine No. 1 hits including “Catch a Falling Star,” an upbeat, feel-good number composed by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss. The recording has the distinction of being the first single to ever be certified “gold” by the Recording Industry Association of America for achieving half-million in sales. Exceptionally, its flip side, “Magic Moments,” written by the powerhouse duo of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, also became a hit as DJs around the country couldn’t decide which side of the disc they, and their audiences, preferred. Ultimately, they found out it was both.

“Chances Are” – Johnny Mathis (1957) (single)

In the late 1950s, as rock and roll was driving teenagers wild and their parents to despair, Johnny Mathis was popular with both groups. He brought a sophisticated approach to a series of double-sided hit singles that were expressive and passionate but free of cliché and false drama. Though producer Mitch Miller is remembered for his bombastic arrangements and the large chorus that he led, his work with Mathis was modulated and restrained, the better to highlight Mathis’s nuanced singing. “Chances Are” has become Mathis’s signature song, and also exemplifies why his is one of the signature styles of pop music.

“The Sidewinder” – Lee Morgan (1964) (album)

The “Penguin Guide to Jazz” said of the 10-minute title track of this album, “[it’s] a glorious 24-bar theme as sinuous and stinging as the beast of the title.” And that’s just the start of this blues masterpiece, which, to many, is the epitome of the “hard bop” genre. An unexpected smash when it was released, the title track was even co-opted by Chrysler for a TV ad for a time but the entire album is splendid, innovative and invigorating with Morgan skillfully blending an eclectic mix of influences – soul, jazz and boogaloo – with all of them united under his deft trumpet, creating a style he would continue to develop until the end of his legendary career. Meanwhile, “Sidewinder’s” commercial success also almost singlehandedly saved its label, Blue Note, from certain bankruptcy at the time.

“Surrealistic Pillow” – Jefferson Airplane (1967) (album)

San Francisco’s Jefferson Airplane released this album in February of 1967 in plenty of time for that year’s Summer of Love. Singer Grace Slick contributed “Somebody to Love” (penned by her brother-in-law, Darby Slick) as well as her own composition “White Rabbit,” a Bolero-like reimagining of “Alice in Wonderland.” These two songs were showcases for Slick’s powerful voice, but hers was not the only vocal and instrumental talent in the band. Singer Marty Balin can be heard harmonizing with Slick and Paul Kantner on “My Best Friend,” “She Has Funny Cars” and “Today,” all to powerful effect. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen’s remarkable range can be heard on solos that are variously blistering, otherworldly or exotic, but his showstopper is the intricate bluegrass finger picking on “Embryonic Journey.” Rhythm from bassist Jack Casady and drummer Spencer Dryden are not only driving and danceable, but also innovative with Casady’s profoundly distorted bass deserving special mention.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” – Bill Withers (1971) (single)

At the time he wrote the song “Ain’t No Sunshine,” singer/songwriter Bill Withers was working at a factory making bathrooms for 747 airplanes. Inspired by the 1962 film “Days of Wine and Roses,” Withers’ soulful lament would later serve as the (arguable) highlight of his 1971 debut album, “Just As I Am.” Produced by Booker T. Jones, “Ain’t No Sunshine” – though originally released as a B-side – eventually reached the ears and hearts of listeners. The song would eventually go gold and win the Grammy for Best R&B song of 1972. It has since been covered by an eclectic number of musicians – including Ladysmith Black Mambazo – and become a go-to selection for innumerable TV talent shows and soundtracks.

“This is a Recording” – Lily Tomlin (1971) (album)

This first comedy album by actress-comedian Lily Tomlin features some of her most memorable characters developed from her time as a cast member on the legendary television show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” Most of the album is performed in character and centers around her beloved Ernestine, the nosy, aggressive and sharp-tongued telephone operator best known for her signature line “one ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy.” Stand out performances include when Ernestine demands that the (fictional) executive at Pepsi Cola Company refund her dime. Even better is when she pits Ernestine against J. Edgar Hoover, whom she associates with the vacuum cleaner company, claiming that “everybody knows there is nothing like a Hoover when you’re dealing with dirt.” The album won Tomlin her first Grammy for Best Comedy Recording, making her the first solo woman to win this award.

“J.D. Crowe & the New South” – J.D. Crowe & the New South (1975) (album)

It has been written that this landmark 1975 album by J.D. Crowe & the New South did for bluegrass what bebop did for jazz – intellectualized it. Though by the time of the making of this LP, Crowe and his players – including such virtuosi as Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice and Jerry Douglas – had each already proved themselves as bluegrass masters, the combined power of this teaming revolutionized the genre and took it to new heights. Together, they carefully chose an eclectic mix of songs and songwriters – ranging from Rodney Crowell to Fats Domino to Ian Tyson and Gordon Lightfoot – and, in doing so, forever expanded the range and audience of bluegrass music, breaking open the canon of the genre.

“Arrival” – ABBA (1976) (album)

While the 1974 Eurovision winning “Waterloo” had brought international attention to the Swedish foursome, none of the group’s subsequent American releases even came close to matching the success they were enjoying throughout the rest of the world. But the single “Dancing Queen” and the album “Arrival” changed all of that. Combined with the success of the follow-up singles “Money, Money, Money” and “Knowing Me Knowing You,” “Arrival” became the band’s defining and most popular album. “Arrival” represents the range of ABBA’s distinctive sounds: playfulness, melancholy and engineering combined with the voices of singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad. There is also a sense of uplift, grounding and a groove in “Dancing Queen” that calls even non-dancers to the open floor with its elegant piano entry and an empowering assertion that “You can dance!”

“El Cantante” – Héctor Lavoe (1978) (single)

Written by the Panamanian musician, singer and composer Rubén Blades, and produced by Willie Colón, “El Cantante” is a song made famous by Puerto Rican salsa singer Héctor Lavoe (1946-1993). Debuted on the 1978 Fania Records album “Comedia,” “El Cantante” became the signature song for Lavoe and provided the title for the 2006 biopic of his life staring Marc Anthony. Lavoe’s difficult life also inspired the 1999 off-Broadway production “¿Quién mató a Héctor Lavoe?” (“Who Killed Héctor Lavoe?”). The song narrates the livelihood, struggles and adversities that singers experience, along with describing how they must interact positively with the public – who, in the end, are their only supporters. “El Cantante” is an excellent example of the many songs that became emblematic at the height of the 1970s New York City salsa era.

“The Cars” – The Cars (1978) (album)

Despite heavy airplay of their demo tapes for more than a year on Boston FM rock radio stations like WBCN, The Cars were barely known outside of that area when this debut album was released in May of 1978. The band’s leader and rhythm guitarist Ric Ocasek’s sang with taut energy and in deceptively minimalist arrangements enhanced by tight, focused soloing and electronic keyboard and percussion flourishes, creating what became an archetype of the New Wave style in rock. Although “The Cars” was not an immediate success, it sold steadily as the band toured the country in support of it, making inroads on AM Top 40 stations and FM progressive stations alike, bringing New Wave sound and style to mainstream pop.

“Parallel Lines” – Blondie (1978) (album)

Despite the iconic, enigmatic image of its frontwoman, Deborah Harry, and two well received prior LPs – a eponymous one and it follow up “Plastic Letters” – the band Blondie remained very much a part of the underground scene, a CBGB secret so far known to far too few. That changed with the release this era-defining album which united the band with Mike Chapman, a toughminded producer but one who fully “got” the band. “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another” and “Hanging on the Telephone” were three of the six singles released from this collection which coalesced the band’s unique, masterful mix of post-punk and New Wave sounds while still proving hard enough for straight-up rock fans and danceable enough for the kids in the clubs.

“La-Di-Da-Di” – Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick (MC Ricky D) (1985) (single)

Originally released as a B-side to the single “The Show,” “La-Di-Da-Di” is one of the most sampled and referenced sound recordings in history. This early hip-hop classic features Doug E. Fresh, known as “the human beatbox,” providing verbal percussion, and MC Ricky D (later known as Slick Rick) on vocals. The song features no instruments, and the beat is from Doug E. Fresh’s ability to imitate drum machines and various special effects using only his mouth, lips, throat, tongue and a microphone. The lyrics to “La-Di-Da-Di” have been referenced in over 1,000 other songs and recordings, including works by the Beastie Boys, Mariah Carey, Snoop Dogg, Notorious B.I.G., Beyonce, Naughty by Nature, Miley Cyrus, The Roots, Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Tupac and BTS.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin (1988) (single)

The pop and adult contemporary charts of the summer of 1988 would not, one would think, be a hospitable place to an a cappella single inspired by an Indian mystic. Yet that is exactly what talented, innovative jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin gave to listeners – to endless, cultural acclaim. A simple but evocative expression, beget by spirit master Meher Baba, “Don’t worry…” had been a beloved 1960s slogan. When McFerrin stumbled upon the phrase in the 1980s, he was inspired to set it to music. Incorporating jazz, Mexican and reggae influences – but eschewing any musical instrument other than his mouth – McFerrin crafted an immediate anthem, an ode, to simple joy.

“Amor Eterno” – Juan Gabriel (1990) (single)

Out of all of Juan Gabriel’s acclaimed musical oeuvre, “Amor Eterno” is his most famous and, perhaps, most heartbreaking. A celebrated Mexican singer-songwriter and actor, Juan Gabriel wrote “Amor Eterno” as a tribute to his mother who passed away in 1974 while the singer was on tour in Acapulco. Gabriel recounts this moment in the lyrics as “El más triste recuerdo de Acapulco” (“The saddest memory of Acapulco”). A bolero with mariachi accompaniment, “Amor Eterno” doesn’t need translation; anyone can grasp the magnitude of grief expressed in the lyrics and melody. It has become a hymn of sorrow, immortalizing the sadness of losing a loved one while commemorating the eternal love that exists between a mother and son.

“Pieces of Africa” – Kronos Quartet (1992) (album)

The Kronos Quartet, founded in 1973, has expanded the traditional string quartet repertoire through its inclusion of jazz, rock and other genre-bending styles. In 1991, they commissioned original works by several African composers for this recording. Released in early 1992, “Pieces of Africa,” features traditional instruments – such as the oud, mbira and sinter – as well an array of vocalists, including a gospel choir, to supplement the standard string quartet instrumentation. The result is a most hypnotic and beguiling suite, which culminates with the five movement “White Man Sleeps,” composed by Kevin Volans. The album “Pieces of Africa” won the 1993 Edison Prize for Classical Music.

“Dookie” – Green Day (1994) (album)

Green Day began their career on the independent label Lookout Records, but it was with “Dookie,” their major label debut via Warner Bros. Records’ Reprise label, that brought them to national attention and reintroduced a pop-infused punk aesthetic to a music scene then in the throes of grunge. Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Frank “Tre Cool” Wright channeled a disaffected slacker posture through juvenile irreverence. The tight and melodic songs delivered through Armstrong’s sneer, which he described as “an American guy faking an English accent faking an American accent,” nodded towards the influence of the earlier generation of punk rockers and served as an alternative to the prevailing alternative rock of the time.

“Ready to Die” – The Notorious B.I.G. (1994) (album)

Remarkably, “Ready to Die” was both the debut studio album and the only album created and released by The Notorious B.I.G. before he was murdered in 1997. “Ready to Die” is considered a landmark of rap and hip-hop. B.I.G. (nee Biggie Smalls, nee Christopher Wallace) remains celebrated for his smooth delivery, which often runs counter to his brutally honest imagery and his vivid storytelling. But the rhymes of “Ready” also often exhibit humor, an erotic heart (for example, on “Juicy”) and a highly creative use of the art of the sample. Along with “Juicy,” the album’s second single, “Big Poppa,” made it to the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, an unusual feat for a hip hop track, then and now.

“Wide Open Spaces” – The Chicks (1998) (album)

“Wide Open Spaces” was the first major-label release for The Chicks. The band, originally a quartet, was formed in 1989 by sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer (nee Erwin) along with Laura Lynch, playing traditional country and bluegrass. Natalie Maines joined the sisters later, and the trio further developed their sound and were picked up by Monument Records. Maines’ influence brought more rock and blues to The Chicks’ sound. The traditional instrumentation of fiddle and mandolin, strong vocal harmonies and undeniable swagger proved a powerful combination. Managing to be unapologetically country while also broadening its scope, this album paved the way for later Chicks success and cemented their place in the modern country pantheon. The band was originally known as The Dixie Chicks when this album was released but changed its name in 2020 amid social protests for racial justice.

Media Contact: Brett Zongker,
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