Curator Curates His Own Playlist

Matthew Barton, curator of Recorded Sound at the Library of Congress, shares some of his favorite tunes.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

How about a little music? Back to our occasional feature we call In Your Ear, where we ask some of our guests about the music that's at the top of their personal playlists. Today, we hear from Matthew Barton, the curator of Recorded Sound at the Library of Congress.

Now, he recently told us about new additions to the library's archives, including Tupac Shakur and Little Richard. But with all of the listening he does on the job, we wanted to know what he's listening to when he's not on the clock.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)

Mr. MATTHEW BARTON (Curator of Recorded Sound, Library of Congress): My name is Matthew Barton, and I'm the curator of Recorded Sound at the Library of Congress. One album that I've been listening to is called "Icelandic Spring Poem."

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)

Mr. BARTON: And it is from Iceland. It's choral music from Iceland, and it's the opening track. It's got a very unusual melodic line, and it describes the physical beauty of Iceland. And my girlfriend Karen and I went to Iceland for the first time last year and were really, you know, blown away by the place. It's really spectacular.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)

Mr. BARTON: Another album that I've been listening to a great deal lately is "Paris 1919" by John Cale, and in particular, the song "Andalucia." It's a very, very appealing melody. It draws you in. But then the lyrics are very unusual, and you start thinking about it. The first line is almost a pun. I think it's, you know, Andalucia, when can I see you?

(Soundbite of song, "Andalucia")

Mr. JOHN CALE (Musician): (Singing) Andalucia, when can I see you? When it is snowing out again. Farmer John wants you. Louder and softer, closer and nearer. Then again...

Mr. BARTON: So is he talking about, you know, land or a women? It's hard to say.

(Soundbite of song, "Andalucia")

Mr. CALE: (Singing) ...taking you, keeping you, leaving you in a year and a day to be sure.

(Soundbite of song, "On a Carousel")

Mr. BARTON: Actually, I've been listening to a great deal of the British group the Hollies.

(Soundbite of song, "On a Carousel")

THE HOLLIES (Rock Band): (Singing) Riding along on a carousel, trying to catch up to you.

Mr. BARTON: Which is probably best known today for the group where Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills and Nash got his start. And, you know, the Hollies were of the same generation as the Beatles. They were from Manchester.

(Soundbite of song, "On a Carousel")

THE HOLLIES: (Singing) ...so near, yet so far. On a carousel.

Mr. BARTON: They're a wonderful band that did just the most wonderful harmonies. You know, they really brought a new sound and a new standard into rock and roll harmony. One song where you can really hear Graham Nash is "Carousel," which was a modest-size hit in the United States.

(Soundbite of song, "On a Carousel")

THE HOLLIES: (Singing) Soon you'll leave and then I'll lose you. Still we're going round.

Mr. BARTON: It's a wonderful counterpoint between Nash, who wasn't always the lead singer, and Allan Clarke, who was the lead singer. And Clarke is, I feel, one of the most underrated vocalists in rock, really outstanding, both as a solo voice and in the wonderful harmonies that the Hollies could pull off.

(Soundbite of song, "On a Carousel")

THE HOLLIES: (Singing) Up, down, up, down, up down, too.

MARTIN: That was Matthew Barton, the curator of Recorded Sound at the Library of Congress, telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our interview that we did with him about the archives, just got on npr.org, click on Programs, then TELL ME MORE. And the Barbershop guys are next. Please stay with us.

(Soundbite of song, "On a Carousel")

THE HOLLIES: (Singing) ...that she won before. Pulling ducks out of the water...

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