R.E.M., Tupac Inducted Into Library of Congress Registry

Records by Patti Smith, the Band, Willie Nelson also make list

June 23, 2010 9:58 AM ET

Tupac Shakur's "Dear Mama," R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe" and three of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time — Patti Smith's Horses, the Band's self-titled second album and Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger — are among the 25 recordings that will be inducted into the Library of Congress' Recording Registry, which preserves "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" works. Loretta Lynn's Coal Miner's Daughter, plus songs by Little Richard and Howlin' Wolf will also be honored this year. Recordings must be at least a decade old to be considered for the Library of Congress, Reuters reports.

The Library of Congress called Tupac's "Dear Mama" "a moving and eloquent homage to both the murdered rapper's own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference." "Dear Mama" marks only the third hip-hop recording to gain entry into the Library of Congress following Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message" and Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet. 1995's "Dear Mama" also becomes the Recording Registry's most recent entrant, coming four years after Nirvana's Nevermind, which was previously the "youngest" Library of Congress inductee.

R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe," the opening track on their seminal debut Murmur, was credited by the Library of Congress as "setting the pattern for later indie rock releases by breaking through on college radio in the face of mainstream radio's general indifference." "Radio Free Europe" is the second significant '80s alternative rock release, along with Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, that has joined the Library of Congress' 300 inducted recordings to date.

Other inductees include Morton Subotnick's Silver Apples of the Moon, the first commissioned electronic music album, the Staple Singers' Stax classic Soul Folk in Action and Max Mathews' 1961 recording of "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)" that featured the singing voice of a programmed IBM 704, which later served as inspiration for the final HAL scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Full list of 2010 Library of Congress Recording Registry inductees:
"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 (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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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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