For the past 17 years, the Library of Congress has made a selection of various recordings it thinks is essential to preserve for posterity in its National Recording Registry. The recordings include not only songs or albums, but also speeches, monologues, field recordings, and phonograph cylinders. With the selection for this year, the count of preserved recordings is now 525.
Time magazine cites Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, who said that, “The National Recording Registry honors the music that enriches our souls, the voices that tell our stories and the sounds that mirror our lives.”
As usual, the selection itself is quite varied, and the LOC has given detailed reasoning for each selection. The selected material includes, for example Yiddish Cylinders from 1901-1905, Cab Calloway’s legendary single “Minnie The Moocher”, recorded monologues by Ruth Draper, country legend Lefty Frizzel’s singles “Long Black Veil”, jazz giant Dexter Gordon’s album “Go” from 1962, the original Broadway recording of “Hair”, up to now-classic albums by Curtis Mayfield and Jay-Z – “Superfly” (1972) and “The Blueprint” (2001).
Speaking of the Jay-Z selection, NPR, points out that he is not the first hip-hop selection in the Registry. Previously, Grandmaster Flash’s single, “The Message”, started the hip-hop ball rolling with the other selections in the genre coming from Public Enemy, 2Pac, The Sugarhill Gang, N.W.A, and Run-D.M.C.
Here is the complete list of honored recordings for 2019:
Yiddish Cylinders from the Standard Phonograph Company of New York and the Thomas Lambert Company (c. 1901-1905)
“Memphis Blues” (Single), Victor Military Band (1914)
Melville Jacobs Collection of Native Americans of the American Northwest (1929-1939)
“Minnie the Moocher” (Single), Cab Calloway (1931)
Bach Six Cello Suites (Album), Pablo Casals (c. 1939)
“They Look Like Men of War” (Single), Deep River Boys (1941)
“Gunsmoke” — Episode: “The Cabin” (Dec. 27, 1952)
Ruth Draper: Complete recorded monologues, Ruth Draper (1954-1956)
“La Bamba” (Single), Ritchie Valens (1958)
“Long Black Veil” (Single), Lefty Frizzell (1959)
Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Vol. 1: The Early Years (Album), Stan Freberg (1961)