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Library Of Congress Adds De La Soul, Others To Collection

De La Soul's landmark 1989 album 3 Feet High And Rising is among the recordings added to the Library of Congress this year. (Courtesy of the artist)

Every year, the Library of Congress chooses 25 sound recordings to preserve. This year's haul includes underwater recordings of humpback whales, which could easily be mistaken for some kind of avant-garde electronica. The rest of the list, however, is dominated by actual songs — and it's a diverse bunch.

The list includes "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," a collaboration by Roy Rogers, Tim Spencer and Bob Nolan (they called themselves The Sons of the Pioneers), recorded in 1934. Around the same time, in the Spanish-speaking Southwest, the song "Mal Hombre" by Houston-born Lydia Mendoza was quite popular; the library has picked that, too. Steely Dan made the cut for its 1977 album Aja, singled out as a stellar example of jazz, blues and pop fusion.

The hip-hop trio De La Soul sampled that Steely Dan album on its 1989 hit "Eye Know." That song, in turn, appeared on De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, which is also being added to the collection this year. All Things Considered's favorite from that album? "Me, Myself, and I," of course.

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Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Every year, the Library of Congress chooses 25 sound recordings to preserve and songs dominate this year's list.

(Soundbite of humpback whale)

NORRIS: That's not some sort of avant-garde electronica, it's songs of the humpback whale. They were recorded using underwater microphones in 1970. But let's move on to dry land now - very dry land.

(Soundbite of song, "Tumbling Tumbleweeds")

SONS OF THE PIONEERS (Musicians): (Singing) Drifting along with a tumbling tumbleweed.

NORRIS: "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," sung by Roy Rogers, Tim Spencer and Bob Nolan in 1934. They called themselves Sons of the Pioneers. Around the same time, in the Spanish-speaking Southwest, this song was popular.

(Soundbite of song, "Mal Hombre")

Ms. LYDIA MENDOZA (Singer): (Singing in Spanish)

NORRIS: "Mal Hombre" - that's "Bad Man" in English, sung by Houston-born Lydia Mendoza. She was one of the first recording stars of Tejano music.

(Soundbite of song, "Aja")

STEELY DAN (Musicians): (Singing) Aja, when all my dime dancin' is through I run to you.

NORRIS: "Aja." The song by Steely Dan. "Aja's" the title track from Steely Dan's 1977 album. And a confession here, I named my 11-year-old daughter after that song.

The Library of Congress put the entire album on this year's list as a stellar example of jazz, blues and pop fusion.

(Soundbite of song, "I Know")

DE LA SOUL (Musicians): (Singing) I know I love you better.

NORRIS: "I Know," the 1989 hit from the trio De La Soul sampled that Steely Dan album. De La's debut album "3 Feet High and Rising" made the Library of Congress cut. A personal favorite from that album...

(Soundbite of song, "Me, Myself and I")

DE LA SOUL: (Singing) Just me, myself and I.

NORRIS: Dance among yourselves.

(Soundbite of song, "Me, Myself and I")

DE LA SOUL: (Singing) Just me, myself and I. Just me, myself and I.

NORRIS: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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