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National Recording Registry Welcomes 25 New Works!

Today’s post is by Cary O’Dell, Boards Assistant to the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.


Twenty-five new titles were selected by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden for induction to the National Recording Registry. The 25 new sound recordings have been recognized for their cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s aural legacy.  This brings the total number of recordings on the Registry to 475.

american pie

“American Pie”–Don McLean

The Librarian of Congress chose the 25 new recordings based upon recommendations from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board, Library staff members and nominations by the American public.

This year, the 25 selections range from  1888 to 1997  showcasing sounds of a a pre-1900, English-born experiment to the mean streets of modern-day LA and favorite titles as American Pie to Ziggy Stardust.

A full list of this year’s inductees, and a description of each can be found, in the Library’s official press release.

NRR Press Release

The Registry chooses recordings that show the strong range and diversity of American recorded sound. .

Some fine examples this year include “I’ll Fly Away” by the Chuck Wagon Gang from 1948), Judy Collin’s seminal rendition of “Amazing Grace” from 1970, a 1989 treatment of Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” by Robert Shaw and company, and Don McLean’s “American Pie” (1971) lyrics.  Two versions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the first from 1923, the second from 1990, which has been recognized as the official African-American national anthem can be found on the Registry. “Lift” with its powerful lyrics and message and even more powerful history takes on the feel of full-on gospel anthem.

Other selections although recorded as much as 30 or more years ago, still sound strikingly new, and they still inspire and influence contemporary musicians. On the list are the late David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” from 1972 and Talking Heads’s new wave masterpiece “Remain in Light” from 1980.


David Bowie, c. 1972

Meanwhile, some of music’s most powerful women, past and present, found themselves on the Registry this year. Along with Judy Collins, another Judy, Judy Garland, and her signature song, “Over the Rainbow” (1939), made the Registry this year in recognition for its incredible endurance and deep meaning to so many.  Modern day diva Renee Fleming with her 1997 “Signatures” collection and the incredible soul prowess of Big Mama Thornton also can be found. Big Mama Thornton’s ripping version of “Hound Dog” which she recorded in 1952, four years before Elvis released his version of the song, can’t be overlooked.   Finally, there’s Barbra Streisand.  Considered by many to be the possessor of one of the finest voices in the history of popular music, Streisand—with both board and public support–saw her 1964 album “People” added to the Registry this year.  Along with the signature title tune, the LP (it of its iconic beach cover) also includes the singer’s take on standards by Irving Berlin, Jule Styne and Harold Arlen.

over the rainbow

“Over the Rainbow”–Judy Garland

Public nominations to the National Recording Registry are taken year round.  See the following link for more information:

National Recording Preservation Board




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