From Judy Garland to N.W.A.: Library of Congress Preserves Iconic Sounds of America

The Library of Congress adds an eclectic mix of iconic recordings to the National Recording Registry.
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The Library of Congress adds an eclectic mix of iconic recordings to the National Recording Registry.
Recordings by Judy Garland, Richard Pryor and David Bowie are among 25 being added to the National Recording Registry.

Recordings by Judy Garland, Richard Pryor and David Bowie are among 25 being added to the National Recording Registry.

The Library of Congress announced yesterday a list of 25 recordings from artists including Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Don McLean, Richard PryorDavid Bowie and N.W.A. to be added to the National Recording Registry.

“This year’s exciting list gives us a full range of sound experiences,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “These sounds of the past enrich our understanding of the nation’s cultural history and our history in general.”

Each year 25 recordings are selected by the Librarian of Congress with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. 

This year's inductees include Judy Garland's classic ballad "Over the Rainbow" from the film The Wizard of Oz

“It represents everyone’s wondering why things can’t be a little better,” Garland said about her signature song in a 1967 interview.

"People," another ballad from the musical Funny Girl performed by another legendary singer Barbra Streisand, is also one of the "aural treasures" being added. "I believe ‘People’ touched our common desire to relate to others with love and caring, and I’ve always tried to express this in my renditions of this magical song," Streisand said of the song. 

Other inductees include:

"American Pie," singer Don McClean's timeless hit which refers to the "day the music died," the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper in a 1959 plane crash, as well as allusions to the tumultuous decade that followed.

David Bowie’s concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which weaves together multiple musical influences and a visionary narrative by his androgynous glam-rock alter ego.

Richard Pryor’s double album, Wanted: Live in Concert, which reflects the comedian's genius at portraying his life and society through laughs. 

N.W.A.'s seminal album Straight Outta Compton, which through its raw, honest rhymes became a definitive work of the rap genre and hip hop culture. 

Here's the full list of recordings that will be preserved as soundtrack to our history:

1. The 1888 London cylinder recordings of Col. George Gouraud (1888)

2. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (singles), Manhattan Harmony Four (1923); Melba Moore and Friends (1990)

3. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (single), Harry Richman (1929)

4. “Over the Rainbow” (single), Judy Garland (1939)

5. “I’ll Fly Away” (single), The Chuck Wagon Gang (1948)

6. “Hound Dog” (single), Big Mama Thornton (1953)

7. “Saxophone Colossus,” Sonny Rollins (1956)

8. The Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, announced by Vin Scully (September 8, 1957)

9. “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs,” Marty Robbins (1959)

10. “The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery,” Wes Montgomery (1960)

11. “People” (single), Barbra Streisand (1964)

12. “In the Midnight Hour” (single), Wilson Pickett (1965)

13. “Amazing Grace” (single), Judy Collins (1970)

14. “American Pie” (single), Don McLean (1971)

15. “All Things Considered,” first broadcast (May 3, 1971)

16. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” David Bowie (1972)

17. “The Wiz,” original cast album (1975)

18. “Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975),” Eagles (1976)  

19. “Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha,” Gunter Schuller, arr. (1976)   

20. “Wanted: Live in Concert,” Richard Pryor (1978)

21. “We Are Family” (single), Sister Sledge (1979)

22. “Remain in Light,” Talking Heads (1980)

23. “Straight Outta Compton,” N.W.A (1988)

24. “Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (All-Night Vigil),” Robert Shaw Festival Singers (1990)

25. “Signatures,” Renée Fleming (1997)