NPR’s 100 Most Important American Musical Works of the 20th Century

The NPR 100
The most important American musical works of the 20th century

* ADAGIO FOR STRINGS, SAMUEL BARBER (prem. 1938 )
* AIN’T THAT A SHAME, words/music FATS DOMINO (1955); as performed by FATS DOMINO
* ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND, words/music IRVING BERLIN (1911); as performed by IRVING BERLIN
* ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL, words/music JACK LAWRENCE/ARTHUR ALTMAN (1940), as performed by FRANK SINATRA and HARRY JAMES & HIS ORCHESTRA (1943)
* APPALACHIAN SPRING, AARON COPLAND (1944)
* AS TIME GOES BY, words/music HERMAN HUPFELD (1931)
* BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN, words/music RAYWHITLEY/GENE AUTRY (1939); as performed by GENE AUTRY
* BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND, words/music BOB DYLAN (1962)
* BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY, BILL MONROE (1947)
* BLUE SUEDE SHOES, CARL PERKINS (1956)
* BODY & SOUL, instrumental version by COLEMAN HAWKINS (1939)
* BORN TO RUN (LP), BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (1975)
* CHORUS LINE (musical), music MARVIN HAMLISCH/words EDWARD KLEBAN (1975)
* COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER, LORETTA LYNN (1971)
* CRAZY, words/music by WILLIE NELSON, performed by PATSY CLINE (1961)
* DJANGO, music JOHN LEWIS; performed by MODERN JAZZ QUARTET (1955)
* DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME, GUS KAHN/WILBER SCHWANDT/FABIAN ANDRE performed by Kate Smith (1931); revived by Mama Cass Elliot (1963)
* DRUMMING, STEVE REICH (1971)
* FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (musical), SHELDON HARNICK/JERRY BOCK (1964)
* FINE & MELLOW, words/music BILLIE HOLIDAY (1940)
* FIRE AND RAIN, words/music JAMES TAYLOR; as performed by JAMES TAYLOR (1970)
* FOGGY MOUNTAIN BREAKDOWN, music EARL SCRUGGS, performed by EARLE FLATT/ LESTER SCRUGGS and THE FOGGY MOUNTAIN BOYS (1949)
* 4:33, JOHN CAGE (1952)
* GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY, GEORGE M. COHAN (1904)
* GONE WITH THE WIND (film score), MAX STEINER (1939)
* GOOD VIBRATIONS, THE BEACH BOYS (1966)
* GRACELAND (LP), PAUL SIMON (1986)
* GRAND CANYON SUITE, FERDE GROFE (1931)
* GREAT BALLS OF FIRE, JERRY LEE LEWIS (1957)
* THE GREAT PRETENDER, THE PLATTERS (1955)
* GUYS & DOLLS (musical), FRANK LOESSER (prem. 1950)
* HELLHOUND ON MY TRAIL, ROBERT JOHNSON (1937)
* HELLO DOLLY (tune), 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, GEORGE & IRA GERSHWIN (1930)
* I WALK THE LINE, words/music JOHNNY CASH; as performed by JOHNNY CASH (1956)
* I WANNA BE SEDATED, THE RAMONES (1977)
* 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 (1939), performed/recorded GLENN MILLER & HIS ORCHESTRA (1940)
* (GOODNIGHT) IRENE, words/music HUDDIE LEDBETTER (LEAD BELLY) and JOHN LOMAX (1950), as performed by THE WEAVERS
* KIND OF BLUE (LP), MILES DAVIS (1959)
* KING PORTER STOMP, JELLY ROLL MORTON (1924)
* KO KO, CHARLIE PARKER (rec. 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, THE DOORS (1967)
* LIKE A ROLLING STONE, BOB DYLAN (1965)
* A LOVE SUPREME (LP), JOHN COLTRANE (1964)
* MACK THE KNIFE, words MARC BLITZSTEIN (after BERTOLT BRECHT)/music KURT WEILL; as performed by ELLA FITZGERALD (1960)
* MAYBELLENE, words/music by CHUCK BERRY, RUSS FRATTO, and ALAN FREED; performed by CHUCK BERRY (1955)
* MOOD INDIGO, DUKE ELLINGTON (1931)
* MY FAIR LADY (musical), LERNER & LOWE (1956)
* MY FUNNY VALENTINE, music RICHARD RODGERS/words LORENZ HART (1937)
* MY GIRL, words/music by WILLIAM ROBINSON and RONALD WHITE; as performed by THE TEMPTATIONS (1965)
* NIGHT & DAY, COLE PORTER (1932)
* A NIGHT IN TUNISIA, DIZZY GILLESPIE (1946)
* OKLAHOMA! (musical), RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN (1943)
* ONCE IN A LIFETIME, THE TALKING HEADS (1983)
* ONE O’CLOCK JUMP, COUNT BASIE (1938 )
* OYE COMO VA, words/music TITO PUENTE (1963); recorded by SANTANA (1971)
* PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG, JAMES BROWN (1965)
* PEGGY SUE, words/music JERRY ALLISON/BUDDY HOLLY/NORMAN PETTY; as recorded by BUDDY HOLLY (1957)
* PORGY AND BESS, music GEORGE GERSHWIN/words IRA GERSHWIN/DUBOSE HEYWARD (1935)
* PSYCHO (film score), BERNARD HERMANN (1960)
* PURPLE HAZE, JIMI HENDRIX (1967)
* RAPPER’S DELIGHT, SUGARHILL GANG (1979)
* RESPECT, words/music OTIS REDDING (1965); as performed by ARETHA FRANKLIN (1967)
* RHAPSODY IN BLUE, GEORGE GERSHWIN (1924); orchestrated FERDE GROFE (1926)
* ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK, words/music MAX FREEDMAN and JIMMY DE KNIGHT (1953); first recorded by BILL HALEY (1955)
* ROUND MIDNIGHT, music THELONIUS MONK (1946)
* (GET YOUR KICKS ON) ROUTE 66, words/music BOB TROUP (1946); performed by NAT KING COLE
* ST. LOUIS BLUES, words/music W.C. HANDY (1914); as performed by BESSIE SMITH
* SHAFT (single), ISAAC HAYES (1971)
* SHOWBOAT (musical), HAMMERSTEIN/KERN (1927)
* SING, SING, SING, words/music LOUIS PRIMA (1936), as performed by BENNY GOODMAN & 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 and STEVE CROPPER (1968 ); recorded by OTIS REDDING
* SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT, NIRVANA (1991)
* STAND BY YOUR MAN, words/music TAMMY WYNNETTE and BILLY SHERRILL (1968 ); as performed by TAMMY WYNNETTE
* STARDUST, words MITCHELL PARISH/music HOAGY CARMICHAEL (1929)
* SYMPHONY OF PSALMS, IGOR STRAVINSKY (1948 )
* TAKE FIVE, music PAUL DESMOND (1960); recorded by DAVE BRUBECK
* TAKE MY HAND, PRECIOUS LORD, words/music THOMAS A. DORSEY (1932)
* TAKE THE A TRAIN, BILLY STRAYHORN (1941), performed by DUKE ELLINGTON ORCHESTRA
* TALKING BOOK (LP), STEVIE WONDER (1972)
* TAPESTRY (LP), CAROLE KING (1971)
* THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, WOODY GUTHRIE (1956)
* TOM DOOLEY (traditional), arranged by DAVE GUARD (1958 ); as performed by THE KINGSTON TRIO
* THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO (LP), THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (1967)
* WARNER BROS. CARTOONS, music CARL STALLINGS (1940s & 1950s)
* WE SHALL OVERCOME, words/music ZILPHIA HORTON, FRANK HAMILTON, GUY CARAWAN, PETE SEEGER (1960); believed to have originated from C. ALBERT TINDLEY’S 1901 Baptist hymn I’LL OVERCOME SOME DAY
* WEST END BLUES, words by CLARENCE WILLIAMS/music by JOE OLIVER (1928 ); as performed by LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND HIS HOT FIVE
* WEST SIDE STORY (musical), LEONARD BERNSTEIN/STEPHEN SONDHEIM (1957)
* WHAT’D I SAY, RAY CHARLES (1959)
* WHAT’S GOING ON, words/music by AL CLEVELAND, MARVIN GAYE, and RENAULDO BENSON (1970); recorded by MARVIN GAYE
* WHITE CHRISTMAS, IRVING BERLIN (1942); as performed by BING CROSBY
* WILDWOOD FLOWER, CARTER FAMILY (1927)
* WIZARD OF OZ (film musical), words E.Y. HARBURG/music HAROLD ARLEN (1939)

Just as an aside to aspiring songwriters: All of these songwriters/performers wrote timeless music and made their points without once using the word “fuck”. Just sayin’.

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