The National Library of Congress has shared its latest batch of musical inductees to the National Recording Registry. The 25 works — a mix of singles, field recordings, albums and soundtracks — represent myriad genres and time periods, and bring the Registry's overall catalog up to 500 entries.
From pop, the class includes The Temptations' 1965 hit single "My Girl"; Tony Bennett's 1962 love song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"; the soundtrack to The Sound of Music; Harry Belafonte's 1965 album Calypso; Arlo Guthrie's 1967 anti-war monologue "Alice's Restaurant Massacree"; the 1967 compilation New Sounds in Electronic Music, which included separate works from Steve Reich, Richard Maxfield and Pauline Oliveros; Chic's indelible disco hit "Le Freak" from 1978; and Run-D.M.C.'s 1986 album Raising Hell.
Other timeless inductions run the gamut from Arthur Schnabel's The Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas (1932-1935), the works' first recordings, to historical field recordings of songs, preserved on wax cylinders by George Herzog in 1928, from the Sioux's Yanktonai-Dakota band. The cylinders captured songs of the band following its relocation to Standing Rock Reservation (near the site of the protracted Dakota Access Pipeline protests) and songs recalled from times prior to establishment of the reservation. The 1930 bolero folk song "Lamento Borincano" gave a voice to the plight of Puerto Rico's farming community during the Great Depression. NBC's two-month radio series covering the United Nations Conference on International Organization, which took place in San Francisco between April and June, 1945, gives a fly-on-the-wall account of how the United Nations' charter was created.
The 2017 inductees are listed chronologically below.
"Dream Melody Intermezzo: Naughty Marietta" (single), Victor Herbert and his Orchestra (1911)
Standing Rock Preservation Recordings, George Herzog and Members of the Yanktoni Tribe (1928)
"Lamento Borincano" (single), Canario y Su Grupo (1930)
"Sitting on Top of the World" (single), Mississippi Sheiks (1930)
The Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas (album), Artur Schnabel (1932-1935)
"If I Didn't Care" (single), The Ink Spots (1939)
Proceedings of the United Nations Conference on International Organization (4/25/45-6/26/45)
Folk Songs of the Hills (album), Merle Travis (1946)
"How I Got Over" (single), Clara Ward and the Ward Singers (1950)
"(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" (single), Bill Haley and His Comets (1954)
Calypso (album), Harry Belafonte (1956) album
"I Left My Heart in San Francisco" (single), Tony Bennett (1962)
"King Biscuit Time" (radio), Sonny Boy Williamson II and others (1965)
"My Girl" (single), The Temptations (1964)
The Sound of Music (soundtrack), Various (1965)
"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" (single), Arlo Guthrie (1967)
New Sounds in Electronic Music (album), Steve Reich, Richard Maxfield, Pauline Oliveros (1967)
An Evening with Groucho (album), Groucho Marx (1972)
Rumours, (album), Fleetwood Mac (1977)
"The Gambler" (single), Kenny Rogers (1978)
"Le Freak" (single), Chic (1978)
"Footloose" (single), Kenny Loggins (1984) remake released in 2011.
Raising Hell (album), Run-DMC (1986)
"Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" (single), Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine (1987)
Yo-Yo Ma Premieres: Concertos for Violoncello and Orchestra (album), Various (1996)
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY GIRL")
THE TEMPTATIONS: (Singing) I've got sunshine...
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
"My Girl," recorded in 1964 - a pop hit but really a kind of a vessel for holding onto and revealing a moment in American life for future generations. "My Girl" is now officially recognized by the Library of Congress as a recording worthy of preservation.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
It and 24 other recordings are this year's picks by the Library's National Recording Registry, recordings deemed to be, quote, "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."
MARTIN: This year's list includes Beethoven's piano sonatas.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
CHANG: "The Sound of Music."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SOUND OF MUSIC")
JULIE ANDREWS: (Singing) The hills are alive with the sound of music.
MARTIN: Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DREAMS")
FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) Thunder only happens when it's raining.
MARTIN: The National Recording Preservation Board - a committee of artists, music business insiders and members of the Library of Congress - do the selecting every year. Matthew Barton is the curator of recorded sound at the Library. One recording that particularly resonates for him...
MATTHEW BARTON: "Lamento Borincano."
MARTIN: "Lamento Borincano" by Puerto Rican songwriter Rafael Hernandez Marin.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAMENTO BORINCANO")
RAFAEL HERNANDEZ MARIN: (Singing in Spanish).
MARTIN: "Lamento Borincano" was recorded in 1930. That melody has been embedded in Puerto Rican life ever since.
BARTON: A jibaro - a Puerto Rican mountain farmer - he's going into town. He's going to sell what he's grown. But when he gets there, the towns are deserted. They're empty. It's the Depression. So he wonders what his future will be, and he wonders what Puerto Rico's future will be.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAMENTO BORNICANO")
MARIN: (Singing in Spanish).
BARTON: It's in a style of music that we haven't had on the registry before, and it tells a vital story.
CHANG: But the registry isn't all music. For instance, etched into lacquer discs - meetings of the early United Nations in 1945.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Senior Caceres has just walked in with a newspaper with headlines fully 10 inches high saying Germany has quit the war.
CHANG: Barton says the National Recording Registry is a way to preserve and elevate moments in history.
BARTON: It's a way of saying that this recording that you don't know is as significant as the one that you do know.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY GIRL")
THE TEMPTATIONS: (Singing) I guess you'd say, what can make me feel this way - my girl, my girl, my girl - talking about my girl, my girl. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.