Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
Tipitina is no longer just the name of a landmark New Orleans music club or one of Professor Longhair's most enigmatic songs. His 1953 recording of the tune is now officially a musical treasure, named to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress.
Each year the Library selects 25 recordings that are 'culturally, historically or aesthetically significant' for preservation in the song registry.
This year, Professor Longhair's classic song is highlighted alongsidesuch diverse selections as Edward Meeker's 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame'; Tammy Wynette's 1968 crossover hit, 'Stand By Your Man'; and the first recorded sounds ever captured, dating back to 1853. The recordings selected were announced Wednesday.
'Tipitina' was hailed by the Library of Congress as a 'signature distillation of the musical ideas and personality' of Henry Roeland Byrd, the pianist better known as Longhair.
Byrd, who died in 1980, was 'a pivotal figure in New Orleans rhythm-and-blues although he attained little success outside the city before the 1970s,' according to the song registry's citation.
'His music was a classic New Orleans fusion of blues figures, parade- band cadences, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms and melodies that he worked into dense, but light-fingered piano lines, and topped off with his merrily idiosyncratic singing, whistling and scatting.'
In singling out Longhair, the historians also point out his role in inspiring and influencing other music greats, mentioning Fats Domino, Huey Piano Smith, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and James Booker in the citation.
Longhair is not the only New Orleans artist selected for preservation on this year's list. The 1930s singing group The Boswell Sisters (New Orleans sisters Connee, Martha and Vet Boswell) are spotlighted for their 1931 version of 'It's the Girl,' with theDorsey Brothers Orchestra.
'The Boswell Sisters produced vocal harmonies that were magical,' says the Library of Congress. 'While polished, their creamy blend revealed their New Orleans roots with its relentless swing and deep feeling for the blues,' according to the registry.
''It's the Girl,' a popular song of 1931, is given a classic Boswell treatment: rhythmic variations on the original song, perfect diction projected with relaxed ease and a fast tempo with sudden tempo and mood changes and a sprint to the end,' write the historians.
Other New Orleans and Louisiana legends added to the registry in previous years include Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Kid Ory and even Huey P. Long, whose 'Every Man a King' speech was recognized in 2003.
Other additions to the registry this year include songs by performers and composers Nat 'King' Cole, Les Paul, Steely Dan ('Aja'), Al Green ('Let's Stay Together') and Henry Mancini (the 'Peter Gunn' TV theme).
Nominations were gathered from online submissions from the public and from theNational Recording Preservation Board, made up ofleaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation.