What does The Who's debut album have in common with the sounds of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and the original cast recording of "West Side Story?" They're among the 25 newest entries to the National Recording Registry.
Guitarist Pete Townshend was only 19 years old when the band he shared with singer Roger Daltry, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon began its climb to rock and roll stardom with "My Generation." Townshend wrote the song for The Who's first album, released under the title My Generation in the group's native England in 1965, and as The Who Sings My Generation in the U.S. four months later.
This year's additions to the National Recording Registry, selected by the Librarian of Congress, represent a wide spectrum of musical styles, from the world's introduction to punk rock and heavy metal by The Who, to John Lee Hooker's blues masterpiece "Boogie Chillen."
Guitarist John Lee Hooker was born the youngest of 11 children near Clarksdale, Mississippi. He left home at age 15, and was hired to play guitar at the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Moving to Detroit, Michigan in 1948, Hooker worked in an automobile factory during the day, while playing in blues clubs at night. His first single, "Boogie Chillen'," released on the Modern Records label, was inspired by the sights and sounds of the blues and jazz clubs along Hastings Street at the heart of the city's entertainment district.
The National Recording Registry also added Etta James' signature song "At Last!" as well as songs by country vocalist George Jones, opera singer Marian Anderson who performed at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, bluegrass duo The Stanley Brothers, jazz trumpeter Oran "Hot Lips" Page, jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, samba singer and actress Carmen Miranda, vocal trio The Andrew Sisters, and rock guitar pioneer Link Ray. Two recordings of the classic folk tune "Tom Dooley" were added, one by banjoist Frank Proffitt and the other by The Kingston Trio.
Non-musical entries include Winston Churchill's "Sinews of Peace" speech, a poem by Dylan Thomas, the comedy album 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, and a 1935 recording of the critically-endangered Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
The 2009 additions bring the total number of sound recordings in the Registry to 275. The recordings were nominated by members of the public, and a panel of music, sound and preservation experts belonging to the National Recording Preservation Board.