The Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry announced 25 new additions to its catalog, including recordings by Janet Jackson, Nas, and Kermit the Frog.
Jackson’s 1989 album, Rhythm Nation 1814, was added to the registry, with the Library of Congress recognizing how Jackson brushed aside record executive wishes to repeat the success of Control and instead made an album that grappled with racism and social injustice. Jimmy Jam, one of the album’s producers, told the LoC, “We wanted Rhythm Nation to really communicate empowerment. It was making an observation, but it was also a call to action. Janet’s purpose was to lead people and do it through music, which I think is the ultimate uniter of people.”
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Nas’ 1994 classic debut, Illmatic, was also added to the registry, as was Kermit the Frog’s 1979 single, “The Rainbow Connection.” Other additions this year include Jimmy Cliff’s 1972 album The Harder They Come, Jackson Browne’s 1974 album Late for the Sky, Flaco Jiménez’s 1992 album Partners, and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole 1993 medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and ”What A Wonderful World.”
Each year, the Library of Congress inducts about 25 recordings into the National Recording Registry, deeming them “audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance n the nation’s recorded sound heritage.”
Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, said in a statement: “The National Recording Registry will preserve our history through these vibrant recordings of music and voices that have reflected our humanity and shaped our culture from the past 143 years. We received about 900 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry, and we welcome the public’s input as the Library of Congress and its partners preserve the diverse sounds of history and culture.”
The oldest recording added to the registry this year is probably one of the oldest playable recordings of an American voice — Thomas Edison’s “St. Louis tinfoil” recording, which was made in 1878, just months after Edison invented his recording machine. The recording was literally made on a piece of tinfoil, and it went unplayed for over a century, until 2013 when researchers were finally able to recover the sound.
Other notable additions to the registry this year include Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra’s 1938 recording of “When the Saints Go Marching In”; Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill’s Christmas Eve broadcast from 1941; the gospel group Albertina Walker and the Caravans’ 1959 single, “Lord, Keep Me Day by Day”; Phil Rizzuto’s radio play-by-play documenting Roger Maris’ then-record breaking 61st home run in 1961; country star Connie Smith’s 1964 single “Once a Day”; blues great Albert King’s 1967 album, Born Under a Bad Sign; and Kool & the Gang’s 1980 party-starter “Celebration.”
The most contemporary recording added to the registry was a 2008 episode of This American Life, “The Giant Pool of Money,” which told the story of the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the Great Recession. It’s also the first broadcast available as a podcast to be added to the registry.
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