BOOM Shaka-laka-laka!

Where were you when you first heard that?

Cover of LP "Stand!"

“Stand!” by Sly and the Family Stone

I was in the theater audience for the movie “Woodstock,” and I recall thinking even then that the section featuring Sly and the Family Stone was the high point of the film. Now, whenever I hear “I Want to Take You Higher,” which has the Boom-shaka-laka-laka bridge between verses, I visualize the long fringe, on Sly Stone’s jacket sleeves, flying through the air in slow motion.

The 1969 long-playing album “Stand!” by Sly and the Family Stone, which includes that song, not to mention the hit “Everyday People” and the title cut, is among 25 recordings being added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry for 2014. This designation is given to recordings regarded as having cultural, artistic or historical significance worthy of preservation for future generations.

This year’s recording registry additions (bringing the grand total of recordings so designated to 425) are a lively mix of rock, folk, pop, jazz, blues, religious and classical, some spoken-word, and some historic recordings.

For example, there’s “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford, who had a huge hit in 1955 with this song about a tough hombre who mines coal for a living: “You load 16 tons and what do you get? Another day older, and deeper in debt. Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go – I owe my soul to the company store.”

Ford, a popular bass-baritone, managed to put a lot of grit into his performance of the song even when he sang it with crystal-clear enunciation (he had classical voice training), wearing a tailored suit.

But to add true grit, this year’s recording registry also includes Blind Lemon Perkins’ 1928 recording of “Black Snake Moan” and “Match Box Blues.”

Joan Baez

Joan Baez Photo by William Claxton

 

Joan Baez’s first album recorded in 1960 and titled with her name is in this year’s registry. It is a collection of folksongs, sung in her bell-like voice with minimal accompaniment, committed to vinyl at the dawn of her long and productive career.

Also on this year’s list is jazz saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s 1953 live concert version of “My Funny Valentine.” The Gerry Mulligan collection is held at the Library.

Lauryn Hill’s 1998 “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is on this year’s list, along with Radiohead’s 1997 album “OK Computer.” Ben E. King’s soulful “Stand By Me” (1961) is listed, along with the Righteous Brothers’ painful “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” from 1964.

The Doors’ eponymous first album (1967) is there, too – which includes not only the high-airplay “Light My Fire” and the highly regarded album cut “The End” but also their version of Kurt Weill’s wry, dry “Alabama Song,” better known by its lyric “Oh, show me/ the way/ to the next/ whiskey bar – No, don’t ask why.”

Touching base with history, there is a set of wax-cylinder recordings of sounds people captured at home between 1890 and 1910, collected by the University of California, Santa Barbara Library; radio coverage of the funeral of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, featuring a sobbing breakdown on the air by reporter Arthur Godfrey; 101 wax-cylinder recordings made of international displays presented at the 1893 World’s Fair at Chicago; and two Irish fiddle tunes laid down in 1922 by Michael Coleman, a violinist who kept this element of Eire real, both in his home nation and in the U.S.

Meanwhile, on the lighter side, the registry takes in Steve Martin’s 1978 LP of wacky bits from two standup shows, titled “A Wild And Crazy Guy” and an album that gathered together some of the best-loved songs from the show “Sesame Street.”

And in a nod to the rise of women in classical music, the 2014 registry includes “Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman,” recorded by the Colorado Symphony conducted by Marin Alsop. The 1999 album presents five fanfares written by composer Joan Tower celebrating “women who are adventurous and take risks” with each fanfare dedicated to a different woman of the music world. It is appropriate that the Colorado Symphony recorded this collection, in that Colorado was an early adapter to women on the concert-hall podium – not only Alsop but also Antonia Brico and JoAnn Falletta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About That Cannon in My Basement —

A few years ago – around 2001, 2002 – I had a cannon in my basement in Rockville, Maryland. You could see it through the front windows, where it was aimed. I wondered if the mailman would report us to Homeland Security. It wasn’t a real one, but it was incredibly realistic and man-o’war-size (about […]

Alan Lomax’s Legacy

(The following is a story written by Stephen Winick, folklorist and writer-editor in the American Folklife Center, for the January/February 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. The issue can be read in its entirety here.) A century after his birth, folklorist Alan Lomax is remembered for his preservation of the nation’s cultural […]

The Library to the Rescue

(The following is a story in the January/February 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The Library of Congress has a long tradition of assisting other institutions in preserving their collections. Nearly a century after the Library of Congress collection was destroyed by a […]

Conservator’s Picks: Treating Treasures

(The following is a story in the January/February 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Conservation Division chief Elmer Eusman discusses conservation treatment options for a variety of prized collection items. Pre-Columbian Objects “Collections such as this classic Maya whistling vessel, dated A.D 400-600, […]

The Science of Preservation

(The following is a story written by Jennifer Gavin for the January/February 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Scientific research in its laboratories helps the Library to preserve and display world treasures. Books with cracked leather bindings; crumbling, yellowed maps and newspapers; faded […]

Instrumentally Yours

The late 19th century gave rise to some truly imaginative, public-minded Americans. We all know about the Thomas Edisons, the Henry Fords, the Garrett Morgans. But there were others who, while not household names today, lived very interesting lives and left behind fascinating legacies. Among these we find Dayton C. Miller, born on a farm […]

Inquiring Minds: The Document Man

Armed guards? Check. Secret rendezvous points? Check. Mysterious steel briefcase? Check. Sounds like a James Bond movie. But it’s just a day in the life of Christopher Woods, director of the National Conservation Service in Britain. By day, he’s a leading conservator in the field with more than 29 years experience working in the heritage […]

Library in the News: December 2014 Edition

Every year, the Library of Congress announces the addition of 25 films to the National Film Registry, and we are always excited about the enthusiasm for the selected films and the opportunity to spread the word about our preservation efforts. The Washington Post reached out to some of the filmmakers for their thoughts on their work […]

Sensationalism! Yellow Journalism! More, More, More!

It’s the day after Christmas, ho-ho-ho-hum. The presents are already open, your elbows are getting rubbed a little raw with all these relatives around, and you’re sick of holiday cookies and candy and fruitcake. It’s all too tempting to jump on the old cellphone and see what snarky things are being said on social media, […]