Library of Congress taps 25 sounds for registry

New recordings include a Grateful Dead concert, Prince, Dolly Parton, and "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Topics: From the Wires,

WASHINGTON (AP) — From rare audio interviews of former slaves to recordings by Donna Summer and the Grateful Dead, 25 sounds that shaped the American cultural landscape are being inducted into the National Recording Registry.

Summer’s 1977 hit “I Feel Love” is joining the Grateful Dead’s famous 1977 Barton Hall concert as sounds of cultural significance, among 25 additions that are being announced Wednesday by the Library of Congress as part of its registry.

The world’s largest library has chosen a diverse array of songs and sounds from history to retain for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry. Among the new choices this year are Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors,” Prince’s “Purple Rain” and more.

Some selections are truly historic and rarely heard. They include the only known audio of former American slaves who were interviewed in the 1930s, including one participant who had worked for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. There’s also a cylinder from a talking doll created by Thomas Edison in 1888 that is the earliest known commercial sound recording. It was considered unplayable until last year, after new digital mapping tools were used to reveal its sound of a woman singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

The library also is saving Leonard Bernstein’s conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1943 and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio from 1970, which introduced millions of people to jazz through the TV soundtrack.

“America’s sound heritage is an important part of the nation’s history and culture, and this year’s selections reflect the diversity and creativity of the American experience,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington, in announcing his final selections.

Though Summer died last week of cancer, her hit single was selected for the sound registry weeks ago, said Matt Barton, the library’s curator of recorded sound. Summer had many hits, but “I Feel Love” rose to the top because it was a breakthrough that would change club music for years to come, according to the library’s citation.

“From the first time you heard it, it was just, ‘Wow, this is very different,’” Barton said. “We hadn’t heard this before. It was enormously influential.”



The registry includes early sounds from hip-hop with Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” from 1979 that is credited with launching a genre and inspiring future artists.

Funk will have its place in the sound history collection with Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” from 1975 with George Clinton’s “Ain’t nothin’ but a party, y’all” on the title track.

Blues singer Bo Diddley is being inducted to the sound registry, too, with “Bo Diddley” and “I’m a Man.”

For Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, Diddley’s sound was some of the first beats he learned as a little boy, he told The Associated Press. So he was thrilled that sounds of the Dead were being preserved at the same time.

Hart had a hand in helping create the sound registry, pushing for a law in Congress in 2000. He said he didn’t lobby for his own music to be included this year, though he was letting other “lads” in the band know about the honor.

Their music will be represented with the 1977 Barton Hall concert at Cornell University, which has been cited as one of their best performances ever. The recording was hailed for its sound quality.

“The Grateful Dead just touched a nerve, and it’s still relevant in many ways today,” Hart told the AP. “It’s American-based music, but the combination of it, I guess, was the chemical that ignited, the energy that ignited the spirit of the people for many generations.”

One key choice they made was to allow fans to record their concerts live, rather than hiring guards to take away recorders. That helped build an army of “Dead heads,” Hart said, because they could all take the experience they had paid for with them. And every concert was always different.

Hart said he is impressed with his fellow inductees in the library collection.

“These are not just songs,” he said. “These are talking books — thousands of years of evolutions of cultures are in this music. It represents something even greater, the hopes, the dreams … the joy, everything it takes to make up a people are embedded in this music.”

___

Online:

Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/

___

Follow Brett Zongker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DCArtBeat .

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>