Update: LOC Packers Songs Collection
By Chris Wood
All photos by Chris Wood
This month marks the 19th anniversary of the Green Bay Packers Song Collection being welcomed into the American Folklife Center of The Library of Congress archives in Washington, D.C.
With that being the case, I thought an update was in order re: any other NFL teams who have had any of their team’s music similarly recognized.
I contacted Judith Gray, the Coordinator of Reference Services for the American Folklife Center who had handled all of the arrangements 19 years ago, to get an update. Interestingly enough, she said there aren’t any other “compilations of team songs in the Folklife Center collections” other than the Green Bay Packers Songs collection.
However, when I inquired about whether or not there were individual songs from any other NFL teams, she said it would require substantial research to determine that. Since songs “could be hidden within a lot of different types of books and recordings,” there’s no easy way to ascertain that.
She shared a great deal of information about where and how to begin a search, which I’ll relate to you here (in the hopes that some of you will be so inclined to pursue it). It does get somewhat esoteric as she goes through it, but I think you will find it fascinating, as I did, if you’re truly interested in the topic.She suggested beginning with the subject headings assigned to the Tailgate Tunes II album: https://lccn.loc.gov/2012625668
Then she explained:
“You’d have to try searching the comparable terms for each NFL team separately to see if there were any relevant hits, but that would only cover books/sheet music compilations/audio recordings/videos that hold enough songs to warrant the use of such subject headings whenever the items were catalogued. So if a CD, for example, included one or two team-related songs, but the bulk of the CD was devoted, say, to songs about Cincinnati or San Francisco, then “[team name]–songs & music” might not show up as a subject term, and those songs would then not make it on to your list.”
“‘Fight songs’ is a subject term that you can use in the online LC catalogue,” she continued, adding the address: http://catalog.loc.gov
“If you enter the term (in quotation marks) in the search box, you’ll get 41 hits, some for compilations of college songs, etc. There’s even one sound recording from 1926 that includes a football song or two from Dartmouth College (https://lccn.loc.gov/2004650753).”
I had mentioned in general some college songs must have received enough attention to merit inclusion in the LOC music archives and I specifically suggested the Notre Dame Victory March.
“Copyright searches would have to be individually done as well, team by team,” she said. “For example, I just tried the post-1978 link on this page (http://www.copyright.gov/records/index.html). That link takes you to this search page (http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?/db=local&PAGE=First).”
I was wowed at this point. The idea of being taken through this process, step-by-step, and having it all explained by a world-class professional as we went along, seemed almost too good to be true! But it got even better, as Judith continued:
“I entered ‘Green Bay Packers’ there, and got a long list of Packer-related copyrights handed out since 1978. One of them, is for a song (other copyrights are for calendars, for highlights videos, etc., etc.). If you enter this registration number – PAu003476868 – in the search box (and select “Registration number” from the drop-down menu), you’ll see the entry: a 2008 song that is called ‘Green Bay Packers.’ Now the fact that a copyright registration has been assigned to this song does not mean that the title is in the Library of Congress. But, in any case, you’d need to do that for each and every team to locate possible entries.”
At this point, she came up with a very practical idea in suggesting that maybe the best way to find out what songs and music each team in the league has had written about it would be to do it the old-fashioned way; by writing letters of inquiry to their fan clubs. It sounded to me like it made a lot of sense, as did her suggestion to ask them to assemble lists of the songs!
In my initial email inquiry to Judith two months ago, I had also wondered about any and all additional professional sports teams fight songs and team songs, as well as the possible presence of some of the major college teams’ songs.
She offered an interesting assessment on that in closing:
“Sports team songs and chants are probably more prolific in the soccer world than in the football world, I’d guess, based on the kinds of papers I hear at ethnomusicology conferences,” she said. “But if you start including baseball, basketball, etc., you’ve got your work cut out for you (and a multi-year project, I’d guess).”
It sounded to me like it could turn into a life-long project, or even a career.
There’s no doubt about it being a large, wide-open field, but for our purposes here, I think there’s more than enough to keep us busy even if we just confine our musical exploration research to the world of football.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn so much more about the subject and process for doing further exploration, and am indebted to Judith Gray of the Library of Congress for taking the time to share her extensive knowledge and experience.
Until next month, happy collecting and in the meantime, “Go! You Packers Go!” as the oldest fight song in the entire National Football League suggests (or should I say demands!).