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NPR compiles list of century's top works of music; Lineup: The selection is debatable, and that's part of the fun.


In an exercise sure to start arguments among music lovers, National Public Radio has created its list of the 100 most important American musical works of the century.

There are plenty of standards here and a few surprises. "White Christmas," "Maybellene," "Appalachian Spring," and the songs from "Porgy and Bess" are works you'd expect on any compilation of this country's 20th-century music. What distinguishes NPR's list is that Robert Johnson's "Hellhound On My Trail," John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" also make the top 100.

The list started with 300 songs suggested by a group of producers, artists and experts familiar to NPR. In mid-October, NPR allowed the public to vote on the selection. More than 13,000 listeners cast their votes online and through the mail.

A panel of 15 musicians considered the same 300 songs. Classical conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, and jazz vocalist Jane Ira Bloom were among the panelists. Their votes and those of listeners were combined in the final list.

George Gershwin led the field with three works, the most by any composer or performer. Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington and Richard Rodgers all had two selections in the top 100. The works, listed alphabetically, don't necessarily represent a performer's best effort. They are pieces that signaled a breakthrough, revealed a new voice or captured the mood of an era. Jimi Hendrix made the list with "Purple Haze" rather than one of his powerful live performances. Ray Charles scored with "What'd I Say," not "Georgia On My Mind."

"Obviously, any list is going to lead to some debate and that's certainly important and fun," said Michael Abrahams, an NPR spokesman. NPR will air a feature on one piece each Monday for a year on "All Things Considered." Other works will be featured on NPR programs such as "Weekend Edition Sunday" and "Performance Today."

National Public Radio's 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century:

"Adagio For Strings": Samuel Barber (1938).

"Ain't That a Shame": words/music Antoine "Fats" Domino/Dave Bartholomew; as performed by Fats Domino (1955).

"Alexander's Ragtime Band": words/music Irving Berlin (1911).

"All or Nothing at All": words/music Jack Lawrence/Arthur Altman; as performed by Frank Sinatra with Harry James and His Orchestra (1939).

"Appalachian Spring": Aaron Copland (1944).

"As Time Goes By": words/music Herman Hupfeld (1931).

"Back In the Saddle Again": words/music Ray Whitley/Gene Autry; as performed by Gene Autry (1939).

"Blowin'In the Wind": words/music Bob Dylan; as performed by Bob Dylan (1962).

"Blue Moon of Kentucky": words/music Bill Monroe (1946); as performed by Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys (1954).

"Blue Suede Shoes": Carl Perkins; as performed by Carl Perkins (1955).

"Body and Soul": words Edward Heyman/Robert Sour/Frank Eyton, music Johnny Green (1930); as performed by Coleman Hawkins and His Orchestra (1939).

"Born to Run": LP, Bruce Springsteen (1975).

"A Chorus Line": musical, words Edward Kleban/music Marvin Hamlisch (1975).

"Coal Miner's Daughter": words/music Loretta Lynn; as performed by Loretta Lynn (1970).

"Crazy": words/music Willie Nelson; as performed by Patsy Cline (1961).

"Django": John Lewis; as performed by The Modern Jazz Quartet (1954).

"Dream a Little Dream of Me": words Gus Kahn/music Wilbur Schwandt and Fabian Andre (1931).

"Drumming": Steve Reich (1971).

"Fiddler on the Roof": musical, words Sheldon Harnick/music Jerry Bock (1964).

"Fine and Mellow": words/music Billie Holiday (1940); as performed by Billie Holiday with Mal Waldron All Stars on "The Sound of Jazz" (CBS-TV) (1957).

"Fire and Rain": words/music James Taylor; as performed by James Taylor (1970).

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown": Earl Scruggs; as performed By Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys (1949).

"4: 33": John Cage (1952).

"Give My Regards to Broadway": words/music George M. Cohan (1904).

"Gone With The Wind": film score, Max Steiner (1939).

"Good Vibrations": words Mike Love/Brian Wilson, music Brian Wilson; as performed by the Beach Boys (1966).

"Graceland": LP, Paul Simon (1986).

"Grand Canyon Suite": Ferde Grofe (1931).

"Great Balls of Fire": words/music Otis Blackwell/Jack Hammer; as performed by Jerry Lee Lewis (1957).

"The Great Pretender": words/music Buck Ram; as performed by the Platters (1955).

"Guys and Dolls": musical, words/music Frank Loesser (1950).

"Hellhound On My Trail": words/music Robert Johnson; as performed by Robert Johnson (1937).

"Hello Dolly": words/music Jerry Herman; as performed by Louis Armstrong (1964).

"His Eye Is On the Sparrow": words/music C.D. Martin/C.H. Gabriel; as performed by Mahalia Jackson (1958).

"Hoochie Coochie Man": words/music Willie Dixon; as performed by Muddy Waters (1954).

"Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel": words/music Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller; Otis Blackwell/Elvis Presley; as performed by Elvis Presley (1956).

"I Got Rhythm": words Ira Gershwin/music George Gershwin (1930).

"I Walk the Line": words/music Johnny Cash; as performed By Johnny Cash (1956).

"I Wanna Be Sedated": words/music Ramones; as performed by Ramones (1978).

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry": words/music Hank Williams; as performed by Hank Williams (1949).

"In the Mood": words Andy Razaf/music Joe Garland (1938); as performed by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (1939).

"Goodnight Irene": words/music Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly) John Lomax (1936).

"Kind of Blue": LP, Miles Davis (1959).

"King Porter Stomp": Jelly Roll Morton (1923).

"Ko Ko": Charlie Parker; as performed by Charlie Parker (1945).

"La Bamba": words/music William Clauson; as performed by Ritchie Valens (1958).

"Let's Stay Together": words/music Al Green/Willie Mitchell/Al Jackson; as performed by Al Green (1971).

"Light My Fire": words/music John Densmore/Robert Krieger/Raymond Manzarek/Jim Morrison; as performed by the Doors (1967).

"Like A Rolling Stone": words/music Bob Dylan; as performed by Bob Dylan (1965).

"A Love Supreme": LP, John Coltrane (1964).

"Mack the Knife": words Marc Blitzstein (after Bertold Brecht) music Kurt Weill (1928/1956).

"Maybellene": words/music Chuck Berry; as performed by Chuck Berry and His Combo (1955).

"Mood Indigo": words/music Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington/Albany "Barney" Bigard/Irving Mills; as performed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (1930). , "My Fair Lady": musical, words Alan Jay Lerner/music Frederick Loewe (1956).

"My Funny Valentine": words Lorenz Hart/music Richard Rodgers (1937).

"My Girl": words/music William "Smokey" Robinson/Ronald White; as performed by the Temptations (1964).

"Night and Day": words/music Cole Porter (1932).

"A Night in Tunisia": John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie/Frank Paparelli (1944); as recorded by Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra (1946).

"Oklahoma!": musical, words Oscar Hammerstein/music Richard Rodgers (1943).

"Once in A Lifetime": words/music David Byrne/Brian Eno/Talking Heads; as performed by Talking Heads (1980).

"One O'Clock Jump": William "Count" Basie; as performed by the Count Basie Orchestra (1937).

"Oye Como Va": words/music Tito Puente (1963); as performed by Santana (1970).

"Papa's Got A Brand New Bag": words/music James Brown; as performed by James Brown (1965).

"Peggy Sue": words/music Jerry Allison/Buddy Holly/Norman Petty; as recorded by Buddy Holly (1957).

"Porgy and Bess": opera, words Ira Gershwin/Dubose Heyward/music George Gershwin (1935).

"Psycho": film score, Bernard Herrmann (1960).

"Purple Haze": words/music Jimi Hendrix; as performed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967).

"Rapper's Delight": words/music Bernard Edwards/Nile Rodgers; as performed by Sugar Hill Gang (1979).

"Respect": words/music Otis Redding (1965); as performed by Aretha Franklin (1967).

"Rhapsody in Blue": George Gershwin (1924); orchestrated by Ferde Grofe, (1924/1926/1942).

"(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock": words/music Max Freedman/James Myers aka Jimmy De Knight (1953); first recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets (1954).

"Round Midnight": words Bernard Hanighen; music Thelonius Monk/Cootie Williams (1944).

"(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66": words/music Bobby Troup; as performed by the King Cole Trio (1946).

"The St. Louis Blues": words/music W.C. Handy (1914); as performed by Bessie Smith (1925).

"Show Boat": musical, words Oscar Hammerstein/music Jerome Kern (1927).

"Sing, Sing, Sing": words/music Louis Prima (1936), as arranged by Jimmy Mundy and performed by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra at Carnegie Hall (1938).

"Singin' in the Rain": film musical, words/music Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown (1952).

"(Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay": words/music Otis Redding/Steve Cropper; as performed by Otis Redding (1967).

"Smells Like Teen Spirit": words Kurt Cobain/music Nirvana; as performed by Nirvana (1991).

"Stand by Your Man": words/music Tammy Wynette/Billy Sherrill; as performed by Tammy Wynette (1968).

"Star Dust": words Mitchell Parish/music Hoagy Carmichael (1927).

"Symphony of Psalms": Igor Stravinsky (1930/1948).

"Take Five": Paul Desmond; as performed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet (1959).

"Take My Hand, Precious Lord": words/music Thomas A. Dorsey (1932).

"Take the 'A' Train": Billy Strayhorn; as performed By Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (1941).

"Talking Book": LP, Stevie Wonder (1972).

"Tapestry": LP, Carole King (1971).

"Theme From 'Shaft' ": words/music Isaac Hayes; as performed by Isaac Hayes (1971).

"This Land Is Your Land": words/music Woody Guthrie (1940).

"Tom Dooley": traditional; as arranged by Dave Guard and performed by Kingston Trio (1958). "The Velvet Underground and Nico": LP, the Velvet Underground (1967).

Warner Bros. cartoon music: Carl Stalling (1936 to 1958).

"We Shall Overcome": words/music Zilphia Horton, Frank Hamilton, Guy Carawan, Pete Seeger (1960); from C. Albert Tindley's Baptist hymn "I'll Overcome Some Day" (1901)., "West End Blues": words Clarence Williams, music Joe Oliver; as performed by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five (1928).

"West Side Story": musical, words Stephen Sondheim/music Leonard Bernstein (1957).

"What'd I Say": words/music Ray Charles; as performed by Ray Charles (1959).

"What's Going On?": words/music Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye and Renaldo Benson (1970); as performed by Marvin Gaye (1971).

"White Christmas": words/music Irving Berlin (1942); as performed by Bing Crosby (1942).

"Wildwood Flower": words/music Maude Irving/J.P. Webster; as arranged by A.P Carter and performed by the Carter Family (1928).

"Wizard of Oz": film musical, words E.Y. "Yip" Harburg/music Harold Arlen (1939).

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