Twenty-five recordings added to Library Congress’ National Recording Registry
The Library Congress has announced the 2020 batch recordings inducted into the National Recording Registry. The gentle sounds Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood; Russ Hodges’ thrilling play-by-play the National League tiebreaker between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951; the Village People’s international dance anthem, “Y.M.C.A.”; “Cheap Trick at Budokan”; and the original 1964 Broadway cast recording Fiddler on the Ro are among the newest recordings being inducted.
Librarian Congress Carla Hayden has named these and 20 other recordings as aural treasures worthy preservation because their cultural, historical and aesthetic importance to the nation’s recorded sound heritage.
“The National Recording Registry is the evolving playlist the American soundscape. It reflects moments in history captured through the voices and sounds the time,” states Hayden. “We received over 800 nominations this year for culturally, historically or aesthetically significant recordings to add to the registry. As genres and formats continue to expand, the Library Congress is committed to working with our many partners to preserve the sounds that have touched our hearts and shaped our culture.”
Under the terms the National Recording Preservation Act 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with annually selecting 25 titles that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least ten years old.
The new recordings added to the National Recording Registry bring the total number titles on the registry to 550, a small part the Library’s vast recorded-sound collection nearly three million items.
The sound recordings recently named to the registry showcase works across multiple genres and formats, including radio sportscasts, children’s recordings, classical, field, country, folk, jazz, pop, rap, disco, Latin and Broadway. The spoken-word and musical recordings span over a half century, from 1920 to 2008.
The disco hit “Y.M.C.A.” remains a symbolic recording within American culture.“I had no idea when we wrote Y.M.C.A that it would become one the most iconic songs in the world, and fixture at almost every wedding, birthday party, bar mitzvah and sporting event. I am glad that the music Village People has made the world smile for over 40 years with our music. On behalf my partners Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo, we thank you and are honored to be in such elite company,” shares Victor Willis, lead singer and writer the lyrics the track.
The most recent recording added to the registry is Colin Currie’s 2008 Percussion Concerto album, composition by Jennifer Higdon, and the recording from the most contemporary genre is rap icon Dr. Dre’s debut studio album, The Chronic (1992), which solidified his reputation as one the greatest rappers in music.
Among the selections are the groundbreaking 1920 jazz swing “Whispering” by Paul Whiteman and his orchestra; two conjunto music pioneers who introduced the classic accordion (Narciso Martinez) and bajo ***to (Santiago Almeida) on “La Chicharronera,” released in 1936; Puccini’s “Tosca,” performed by one the 20th-century’s greatest opera singers, Maria Callas, and released in 1953; Eddy Arnold’s 1965 version “Make the World Go Away”; the first commercial digital recording symphonic music in the United States, by Frederick Fennell and the Cleveland Symphonic Winds, from 1978; field recordings over 50 hours traditional Afghan music; and “A Feather on the Breath God,” an award-winning album sacred vocal music written in the 12th century and performed and recorded by Gothic Voices in 1985.
“This album Hildegarde von Bingen’s music brought the art an amazing woman to an entirely new audience, and I feel most fortunate to have been part the group that recorded it,” states soprano Dame Emma Kirkby.
Several recordings on the list were made by some America’s phenomenal female changemakers.
Among them are Memphis Minnie, one the most popular female country blues singers all time, and her well-known single “Me and My Chauffeur Blues,” recorded in 1941. Memphis Minnie, whose real name is Lizzie Douglass, dominated the male dominated blues genre in the early 1900s and influenced female guitarists for over three decades. “I learned Me And My Chauffeur Blues way back in the 1970s. When I got the opportunity to record the Ramblin’ album for Folkways Records,” said singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. “I knew it had to be on there. I have always felt a deep connection with Memphis Minnie -and always will.”
Selena’s successful 1990 album, Ven Conmigo, made her the first female Tejano singer to have a gold album. March 31st marks 25 years since the singer’s untimely death in Corpus Christi, Texas. Over the past quarter a century, Selena’s influence on fashion, culture, and course music has remained impactful on the generations that have come after her.
Tina Turner’s 1984 album Private Dancer served as a personal statement liberation and solidified her legendary career. “Tina’s innate ability to expand her reach deep into all this new material seems, to this very day, simply unbelievable. Never equaled,” says Rupert Hine, a musician, songwriter and producer on the album. “These songs were populated in such a small handful days at such high energy as to leave those left in the room thereafter spinning. Something very special was happening right under our feet.”
Maria Schneider’s Grammy Award-winning studio album, Concert in the Garden, recorded in 2004, is also included in the registry this year. Schneider also is the first female jazz composer to have an album added to the National Recording Registry. “I am deeply moved to have this album that was artistically so fulfilling to make, honored in this magnificent way,” shares Schneider. “Crowdfunded in 2003, years before the word ‘crowdfund’ was coined, and as the first release on the prescient label, ArtistShare, Concert in the Garden paved the way to artistic and financial freedom in recording. At the time, I had a sense it was making history, showing how when the internet opens up a two-way, direct and transparent connection between an artist and an audience with no intermediary, the artist can find financial independence and true artistic freedom.”
Two the additions — Dusty Springfield’s 1969 album Dusty in Memphis and Whitney Houston’s rendition a Dolly Parton classic, “I Will Always Love You” — have a hidden connection. Houston’s mother, legendary gospel vocalist Cissy Houston, recorded background vocals as a member The Sweet Inspirations for songs on Dusty in Memphis.
Rock & Roll Hall Famers Cheap Trick rocked Japan in 1978 with the recording their live album. “We are honored that our breakout album, Cheap Trick at Budokan, is being added to the National Recording Registry the Library Congress,” states the group’s lead guitarist and principal songwriter, Rick Nielsen. “We thank our loyal fans who nominated us, and our favorite Rockford school librarian who got the ball rolling!”
Allan Sherman’s comedy classic from 1963, Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, makes the registry this year. “It would have amazed my father, 50-plus years since he wrote it. It’s still something that people care, sing about,” shares Sherman’s son, Robert Sherman.
The original version “Wichita Lineman,” written by Jimmy Webb and recorded by country music legend Glen Campbell in 1968, also was added. “I’m humbled and, at the same time for Glen, I am extremely proud,” states Webb. “I wish there was some way I could reach him to say, ‘Glen, you know they’re doing this. They are putting our music in a mountain — it will be preserved for all time.” Country music artist Toby Keith shared, “Wichita Lineman is one the songs I love best. Though written over 50 years ago, It continues to haunt and enthrall us. Jimmy Webb is America’s finest living songwriter and no one can sing a song like the incomparable Glen Campbell.”
Also on the list: a two-sided 1927 recording Compagnia Columbia’s “Protesta per Sacco e Vanzetti Raoul Romito’s “Sacco e Vanzetti” by Raoul Romito — a response to the 1921 guilty verdicts and death sentences two Italian immigrants. These Italian-language recordings are examples Italian American opposition to the arrest, trial, sentencing and executions Sacco and Vanzetti.
Recordings several radio broadcasts also were added: an episode Arch Oboler’s Plays, one the earliest American old-time horror radio program; the announcement the assassination President John F. Kennedy made by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor during the recording a live performance on November 22, 1963; and Russ Hodges’ call the 1951 National League tiebreaker between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Giants were down two runs in the bottom the ninth inning the final game the three-game playf. Ralph Branca was pitching for the Dodgers, Bobby Thomson came to bat, and Willie Mays was on deck. “Ralph was a good, good pitcher. Didn’t have a real good curve but a good fastball,” the legendary Mays recalls. “And he placed it a lot, so I thought they would do the same thing with Bobby. Walk him and pitch to me because they knew that was my first year.” They didn’t. Instead, Thomson hit a walk-f home run — the “Shot Heard ’Round the World” — and gave the Giants one the most dramatic victories in baseball history.
Some registry titles have already been preserved by the copyright holders, the artists or other archives. In cases where a selected title has not already been preserved, the Library Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the sound recording will be preserved by some entity and available for future generations. This can be either through the Library’s recorded-sound preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, recording studios and independent producers.
The Packard Campus is a state–the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings. It is home to more than seven million collection items.
The Library Congress is the world’s largest library, fering access to the creative record the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm the U.S. Congress and the home the U.S. Copyright Office.