Reader's Exchange

Think you've heard it all?

Quick: name the greatest country song of all time.

According to a Country Music Magazine poll, honors go to "He Stopped Loving Her Today" written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam and memorably performed by George JonesListen, and you'll understand its enduring popularity.

Country Music Hall of Famer and Kennedy Center honoree George Jones died earlier today at 81.George Jones record

Numerous sources cite how "changing tastes" diminished Jones' standing later in his career, but current performers frequently name him as a key influence.  And many of us still prefer our country music at the old-school end of the spectrum.   I'm personally unwilling to contradict CMT columnist Hazel Smith's contention that "country music is the one thing on this planet that is true". 

Though we all hear truth differently, we could probably agree that music's goal is to connect us to the experiences of others.

Some outstanding historical sheet music resources provide evidence that country music isn't alone in doing that--now or ever.  You can mine these virtual collections featuring digitally scanned documents (they even include cover artwork) for a sense of events, emotions, and trends in past eras.

Library of Congress' Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885 exhibits over 47,000 pieces of sheet music, including popular songs, choral music, band and orchestra selections.  Teachers and history buffs will enjoy the subject search--Andrew Jackson, steamboats, and the California Gold Rush, for example.

Sheet Music Consortium's aggregation of 22 respected sheet music collections includes 226,904 items and an impressive date range: 1830-1969.  Select "Browse" for searching options.  Also, since not all entries offer full content, it's a good idea to check the "View digitized content only" box.  "Across the Alley from the Alamo" (1947) and "Please Buy My Last Paper, I Want to Go Home" (1869) signal the range of treasures found here.

Our library's CD music collection of over 4,000 items includes some of the best of both worlds: significant core recordings--some historic--but also  and new and popular releases in response to customer tastes.  It's not unusual to hear patrons exclaim, "You have it!" when they've spotted a CD they wished for but didn't actually expect to find here.

We even have some books with sheet music.  Your best bet to locate them in the catalog, according to music collection developer Chris, is a title search for "songbook".

Added benefit of a library visit: live music.  Of course, you need to show up at the right time-during Monday Music on Main Street performances.  You'll hear the tunes as you walk toward the exits. 

You'll also see how much fun everyone else is having over there.  Why not stash a folding chair or two in your car on those evenings?   You'll be set to join the other folks converging on the Plaza with portable seating, beverages, and their own votes for greatest song of all time.

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