Franklin Roosevelt, Paul Simon, the Rolling Stones and Allen Ginsberg were recognized this week for their contributions to sound recording. Their words and music were among 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant selections added this month to the address to the nation after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor would be considered so historically significant that it should be preserved in the nation's official sound library.
Likewise, a gospel song that folksinger Pete Seeger turned into an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement has a definitive place in American history. A version of recorded in 1963 at a concert in Carnegie Hall was specifically chosen for the Registry.
But some of the selections added this year to the National Recording Registry by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington may seem surprising, like a 1955 recording of "Blue Suede Shoes," sung not by Elvis, but by the man who wrote it, Carl Perkins.
"is probably the quintessential rockabilly song," says Gene Deanna, head of the recorded sound section at the Library of Congress. "It is a great expression of the kind of young man's crazy coolness that is pretty typical of genre." "Blue Suede Shoes" also earned a place in cultural history as the first record to top the country, R&B and pop charts in the United States.
DeAnna points to another selection on the list as typical of the genre it represents, as well as representative of the band that recorded it, the Rolling Stones. "If the Stones weren't already seen as the 'scary Beatles' by parents, they certainly nailed it down with " he says. "They emerged from it as the guys you don't want your daughter hanging around with."
"Satisfaction" has also had an impact on other musicians, DeAnna notes. "The song has one of the great rock hooks of all time, and Keith Richards use of the fuzz tone guitar spread through pop music like wildfire and probably influenced every garage band for the next 40 years."
Additional pop music added to the registry this year includes The Velvet Underground and Nico, Bob Marley's Burnin', "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes, and "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, along with Paul Simon's album, which featured the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Other selections of jazz, classical, blues, and country music are also represented. And there's comedy from Bob Newhart, poetry from the late Allen Ginsberg, and from 1937, the earliest known recording of the popular radio drama, .
Nominations for the registry were submitted online by the public and by leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation who serve on the National Recording Preservation Board.
"Each recording on the list can bring dozens of others to mind that are of similar stature and significance," says the Library's curator of sound recording, "but should elicit questions and concerns about what is being done to save these sounds for posterity."
The Library of Congress is doing its part. In addition to the registry, which began in 2000 and now has 225 recordings, the Library is developing a comprehensive national program to preserve more of modern culture's greatest sounds