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NPR Names Century's 100 Most Significant Songs

Music: Listeners and a panel of musicians participated in the vote, but there are bound to be some arguments about it.


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.

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 saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom were among the panelists. Their votes and those of listeners were combined in the final list.

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.

"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": by Samuel Barber (1938).

* "Ain't That a Shame": by Antoine "Fats" Domino and Dave Bartholomew, as performed by Fats Domino (1955).

* "Alexander's Ragtime Band": by Irving Berlin (1911).

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

* "Appalachian Spring": Aaron Copland (1944).

* "As Time Goes By": by Herman Hupfeld (1931).

* "Back in the Saddle Again": by Ray Whitley and Gene Autry, as performed by Gene Autry (1939).

* "Blowin' in the Wind": by Bob Dylan, as performed by Bob Dylan (1962).

* "Blue Moon of Kentucky": by 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 by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton, music by Johnny Green (1930), as performed by Coleman Hawkins and His Orchestra (1939).

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

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

* "Coal Miner's Daughter": by Loretta Lynn, as performed by Loretta Lynn (1970).

* "Crazy": by 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 by Gus Kahn, music by Wilbur Schwandt and Fabian Andre (1931).

* "Drumming": Steve Reich (1971).

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

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

* "Fire and Rain": by 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": by George M. Cohan (1904).

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

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

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

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

* "Great Balls of Fire": by Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer, as performed by Jerry Lee Lewis (1957).

* "The Great Pretender": by Buck Ram, as performed by the Platters (1955).

* "Guys and Dolls": musical, by Frank Loesser (1950).

* "Hellhound on My Trail": by Robert Johnson, as performed by Robert Johnson (1937).

* "Hello Dolly": by Jerry Herman, as performed by Louis Armstrong (1964).

* "His Eye Is on the Sparrow": by C.D. Martin and C.H. Gabriel, as performed by Mahalia Jackson (1958).

* "Hoochie Coochie Man": by Willie Dixon, as performed by Muddy Waters (1954).

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

* "I Got Rhythm": words by Ira Gershwin, music by George Gershwin (1930).

* "I Walk the Line": by Johnny Cash, as performed by Johnny Cash (1956).

* "I Wanna Be Sedated": by the Ramones, as performed by the Ramones (1978).

* "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry": by Hank Williams, as performed by Hank Williams (1949).

* "In the Mood": words by Andy Razaf, music by Joe Garland (1938), as performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra (1939).

* "Goodnight Irene": by Lead Belly and 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": by William Clauson, as performed by Ritchie Valens (1958).

* "Let's Stay Together": by Al Green, Willie Mitchell and Al Jackson, as performed by Al Green (1971).

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