Every spring the Library of Congress selects 25 recordings that they deem to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” to be added to their National Recording Registry. There is a wide selection each year with recordings from all genres of music combined with radio broadcasts. speeches and other spoken word recordings.
For example,this year includes General Marshall‘s 1947 speech at Harvard where he laid out the basis for the Marshall Plan alongside George Carlin’s seminal Class Clown comedy album. Plus for sports lovers, there’s the recording of the broadcast of the fourth quarter of the historic 1962 game in which Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points.
There are a lot of things from the list that I could use for this Sunday morning music selection. There are two versions of Mack the Knife, one from Louis Armstrong and the other from Bobby Darin. There’s Where Did Our Love Go? from the Supremes, Piano Man from Billy Joel, Cry Me a River from Julie London and too many others to list this early in the morning. You can see the whole list here.
But the selection that caught my eye was the 1964 debut album, It’s My Way, from folk singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. If you are of a certain age, you probably remember Buffy Sainte-Marie when she was one of the stars of the folk revival of the 1960’s. Her Cree Indian heritage and the fact she was one of the few women songwriters in the genre at the time made her stand out and she was staple of variety television shows of the era. But her profile was less visible going into the 1970’s and she had a 16 year hiatus from recording from the mid 70’s until 1992 although she was still busy as a songwriter. The song Up Where We Belong which she co-wrote was a huge hit for Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes as well as winning the Academy Award for Best Song in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman.
This 1964 album is a pretty remarkable recording and there are a number of her songs from it which I could have chosen to play. Universal Soldier became a standard as a 1960’s protest song and Cod’ine was covered by dozens of artists, most famously Janis Joplin. But it is the title track that stands out for me. It’s a song that seems timeless in its sound, not trapped in its own time like some songs from significant eras. It’s a powerful song that builds and builds.
Give a listen to It’s My Way and have a great Sunday.