The Doors’ debut album; the magical essence of New Orleans jazz; one of the most-played songs on the airways during the 20th century; the “Lovin’ Feelin’” of the Righteous Brothers; and the sounds of a pioneering children’s program are among the recordings recently selected for induction into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has named 25 new sound recordings to the registry that have been recognized for their cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy.
“Congress understood the importance of protecting America’s aural patrimony when it passed the National Recording Preservation Act 15 years ago,” said Billington. “By preserving these recordings, we safeguard the words, sounds and music that embody who we are as a people and a nation.”
Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with annually selecting 25 recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least ten years old. The selections for the 2014 registry bring the total number of recordings on the registry to 425, a small part of the Library’s vast recorded-sound collection of nearly three million items.
The selections named to the 2014 registry feature a rich and varied array of spoken-word and musical recordings—representing nearly every musical category—spanning the years 1890-1999. Among the 2014 selections are “Joan Baez,” the artist’s first solo album; Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 1955 “Sixteen Tons”; the rhythm and blues classic “Stand by Me,” which made history as one of the most broadcast songs of the 20th century; Sly and the Family Stone’s 1969 “Stand!,” one of the most successful albums of the 1960s; jazz saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s 1953 live concert rendition of “My Funny Valentine”; The Swan Silvertones’ 1959 version of “Mary Don’t You Weep”; the original-cast recording of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate”; Joan Tower’s celebration of women in music, “Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman”; 20 classic songs compiled in the 1995 Sesame Street: All-Time Platinum Favorites; and one of the landmark records of the 1990s, Radiohead’s OK Computer.
Two debut albums that made the list are the 1967 The Doors, which features some of the group’s most iconic songs, and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the breakthrough recording that fuses soul, rhythm and blues, rap and reggae.
“By preserving these recordings, we safeguard the words, sounds and music that embody who we are as a people and a nation.”
Spoken-word recordings on the list include Steve Martin’s second comedy album A Wild and Crazy Guy; an episode of the radio series “Suspense,” featuring Agnes Moorehead’s first broadcast of “Sorry, Wrong Number”; radio coverage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral, including announcer Arthur Godfrey’s emotional broadcast; and Charles Laughton’s non-musical theatrical production, “John Brown’s Body,” with performances by such notable actors as Tyrone Power and Raymond A. Massey.
The 2014 registry also features a collection of 600 wax-cylinder recordings from the turn of the 20th century and rare recordings from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair demonstrating “world music” from numerous countries around the globe.
Nominations were gathered through online submissions from the public and from the NRPB, which is comprised of leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation. The Library is currently accepting nominations for the next registry at the NRPB website.
As part of its congressional mandate, the Library is identifying and preserving the best existing versions of each recording on the registry. These recordings will be housed in the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia, a state-of-the-art facility that was made possible through the generosity of David Woodley Packard and the Packard Humanities Institute, with benefaction from the U.S. Congress. The Packard Campus is home to more than seven million collection items, including nearly three million sound recordings.
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.