Shed A Little Light - which was on an episode of The West Wing. Gospel-based country rock, with a secularly religious overtone. Whatever that means. With the powerful opening line of "Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King." Written by a white dude - how about that!
Oh Can Ye Sew Cushions by Janetta Gould performed by Helen Callus and Robert McDonald in A Portrait of the Viola, fairly recently elected head of the American Viola Congress. It was a little pricey when I bought it, but if there was one CD that I would recommend to someone who wanted to know what a viola was, this would be it. Oddly enough for me, it's mostly contemporary music.
Also, my favorite products of human ingenuity - everyone has some sort of talent, but the inventors of these had that additional touch of having a talent that was unsual. Perhaps that's what constitutes genius. Just weirdness gone to extremes.
1. The toilet flush. I mean, the thing is incredible - it uses absolutely no external energy source outside of the hand pushing down the flush handle, which is probably the most important lever in our lives.
2. Sound recording. I remember getting a prize ribbon for an creative writing essay I wrote back in middle school. Later I was a little shocked to find out later that some novelist had already had the same writing style, and wondered whether that made my essay a form of plagiarism, just because someone else had the same idea earlier - though I didn't copy from it. The thing is, few things are really original, but that's ok, we appreciate the finer shades of grey.
Sound recording ranks up there with me not because I'm in music, but because it was a truly brilliant original idea - not just the concept, but the ideas into how to make it happen. It's better than film and television, in my opinion, because that's a general extension of art going all the way back to telling stories on the walls of caves.
The whole idea of taking this non-tangible thing called sound and actually making a permanent record of it - its creation has redefined culture, and brought down presidents. Not to mention redefining "original".