Washington, D.C. (April 5, 2004)–Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has made his annual selection of 50 sound recordings for the National Recording Registry. Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian is responsible for annually selecting recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Among the recordings added this year are The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, Nirvana’s Nevermind.
In announcing the registry, the Librarian said, “Once again, we have the opportunity to celebrate the rich variety of music recorded in the United States and the importance of sound recording in our lives.”
Nominations for the registry, which must be at least 10 years old, were gathered from members of the public, who submitted suggestions online (www.loc.gov/nrpb), and from the National Recording Preservation Board, which comprises leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation. The board also assisted the Librarian with the review of nominations.
The new additions to the registry honor a wide variety of outstanding spoken and musical recordings. Among the selections is the sound recording of one of 20th century’s greatest scientific achievements–the landing on the moon. The registry also highlights the use of sound in the natural sciences, as demonstrated through Professor Katharine Payne’s revelatory recordings of elephants. Selections include a number of significant political recordings, as well as the first complete recording of the Bible.
Hip-hop superstar Chuck D., whose album Fear of a Black Planet was added to the registry, and Michael Feinstein, one of the premier interpreters of American popular song, attended the news conference to discuss the importance of sound preservation. Feinstein paid tribute to George Gershwin and Fred and Adele Astaire’s 1926 recording of “Fascinating Rhythm,” by performing it on Gershwin’s own piano, now at the Library of Congress and on view in the George and Ira Gershwin Room, a permanent exhibition for materials from the Library’s extensive Gershwin Collection. The Astaire-Gershwin recording was named to the third annual registry.
The National Recording Registry was created by the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, legislation that promotes and supports audio preservation. The registry celebrates the richness and variety of the nation’s audio legacy and underscores the responsibility to assure the long-term preservation of that legacy for future generations.
On behalf of Congress and the National Recording Preservation Board, the Library of Congress is conducting a study on the state of audio preservation and will develop a comprehensive national recording preservation program, the first of its kind. The study encompasses the current state of sound-recording archiving, preservation, restoration activities and access to those recordings by scholars and the public. The Council on Library and Information Resources is assisting the Library in conducting the audio preservation study.
The Library is identifying and preserving the best existing versions of the recordings on the registry. These efforts have received support from record companies and archives. Sony BMG, in particular, is assisting the national preservation program by locating the best surviving elements of its recordings and duplicating them at no cost to the Library, ensuring that the best existing versions are added to the National Recording Registry Collection at the Library of Congress.
The Library is currently accepting nominations for the 2005 National Recording Registry at the National Recording Preservation Board Web site, www.loc.gov/nrpb. The deadline for public nominations is July 1, 2005.
The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the world’s largest library with more than 30 million items, which includes nearly three million sound recordings. The Library’s Recorded Sound Section holds the largest number of radio broadcasts in the U.S.–more than 500,000.
2004 National Recording Registry (in chronological order):
1. “Gypsy Love Song,” Eugene Cowles (1898)
2. “Some of These Days,” Sophie Tucker (1911)
3. “The Castles in Europe One-Step”(Castle House Rag) Europe’s Society Orchestra (1914)
4. “Swanee,” Al Jolson (1920)
5. Armistice Day broadcast by Woodrow Wilson (1923)
6. “See See Rider Blues,” Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (1923)
7. “Charleston,” Golden Gate Orchestra (1925)
8. “Fascinating Rhythm” from “Lady, Be Good!” Fred and Adele Astaire; George Gershwin, piano (1926)
9. NBC radio broadcast coverage of Charles A. Lindbergh’s arrival and reception in Washington, D.C. (1927)
10. “Stardust,” Hoagy Carmichael (1927)
11. “Blue Yodel (T for Texas),” Jimmie Rodgers (1927)
12. “Ain’t Misbehavin'” Thomas “Fats” Waller (1929)
13. “The Suncook Town Tragedy,” Mabel Wilson Tatro of Springfield, Vt. (July 1930).
14. “Gregorio Cortez,” Trovadores Regionales (1929)
15. Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Sergei Rachmaninoff, piano; Leopold Stokowski, conductor, Philadelphia Orchestra (1929)
16. Rosina Cohen oral narrative from the Lorenzo D. Turner Collection (Summer (1932).
17. “Stormy Weather,” Ethel Waters (1933)
18. “Body and Soul,” Coleman Hawkins (1939)
19. Sergey Prokofiev, “Peter and the Wolf,” Serge Koussevitzky, conductor; Richard Hale, narrator; Boston Symphony Orchestra (1939)
20. “In the Mood,” Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (1939)
21. Edward R. Murrow broadcast from London (1940)
22. “We Hold These Truths,” radio broadcast (1941)
23. Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1, op. 23, B minor, Vladimir Horowitz, piano; Arturo Toscanini; conductor; NBC Symphony Orchestra (1943)
24. “Down by the Riverside,” Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1944)
25. “U.S. Highball (Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip), Harry Partch; Gate 5 Ensemble (1946)
26. “Four Saints in Three Acts,” Virgil Thomson, composer, with members of original 1934 cast (1947)
27. “Manteca,” Dizzy Gillespie Big Band with Chano Pozo (1947)
28. Jack Benny radio program of March 28, 1948
29. “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs (1949)
30. “Lovesick Blues,” Hank Williams (1949)
31. “Guys and Dolls,” original cast recording (1950)
32. “Old Soldiers Never Die” (Farewell Address to Congress), Douglas MacArthur (1951)
33. “Songs by Tom Lehrer” (1953)
34. “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” Muddy Waters (1954)
35. “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine),” The Penguins (1954)
36. Tuskegee Institute Choir Sings Spirituals, directed by William L. Dawson (1955)
37. “Messiah,” Eugene Ormandy, conductor; Richard Condie, choir director, Mormon Tabernacle Choir; Philadelphia Orchestra (1958)
38. “Giant Steps,” John Coltrane (1959)
39. “Drums of Passion,” Michael Babatunde Olatunji (1960)
40. “Peace Be Still,” James Cleveland (1962)
41. “The Girl from Ipanema,” Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto (1963)
42. “Live at the Apollo,” James Brown (1965)
43. “Pet Sounds,” The Beach Boys (1966)
44. King James version of the Bible, Alexander Scourby (1966)
45. Remarks from Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong’s broadcast from the moon (1969)
46. “The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East” (1971)
47. “Star Wars” (soundtrack), John Williams (1977)
48. “Fear of a Black Planet,” Public Enemy (1989)
49. Recordings of Asian elephants by Katharine Payne (1989)
50. “Nevermind,” Nirvana (1991)