398635 21: Singer Alicia Keys attends the Z-100 Jingle Ball December 13, 2001 at Madison Square Garden New York City. (Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)
The Library of Congress is preserving these major historical recordings
WNYC's 9/11 coverage, President Franklin D. Roosevelt speeches and Queens' Bohemian Rhapsody are a few of the pieces to be preserved by the Library of Congress.
By Neda Ulaby/ NPR
When the World Trade Center was destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, staffers at the city’s largest public radio station struggled to report the news — not because their transmitter was atop one of the Twin Towers. But our colleagues at WNYC persevered and managed to keep New Yorkers informed throughout the horror and chaos of that terrible day and provide the first eyewitness accounts of the attack.
Now, WNYC’s 9/11 broadcasts will be archived in the National Recording Registry. Every year since 2000, when the Registry was first established by an act of Congress, the Library of Congress picks 25 titles to be preserved for posterity.
The list usually includes what the LOC calls “sounds of history,” and this year, those selections include the complete presidential speeches of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and WSB-Atlanta’s coverage of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, vividly called by legendary sportscaster Milo Hamilton.
“When Aaron hit that homer, Hamilton’s on-air exuberance matched that of those in the stands,” said the Library of Congress in a statement. “Almost as well remembered as the 715th home run itself, Hamilton’s announcing of the breaking of ‘the record that would never be broken’ is one of baseball’s — and radio’s — greatest ever calls.”
The registry is intended, in part, to promote the LOC’s preservation efforts. So how better to publicize itself than including the country’s most beloved musicians? This year’s inductees, as usual, include numerous celebrities and staples of classic rock. Entire albums newly added to the registry range from Duke Ellington’s 1956 Ellington at Newport to 1997’s Buena Vista Social Club to Linda Ronstadt’s 1987 career milestone, Canciones de Mi Padre.
“Canciones de Mi Padre is an album I’ve always wanted to make because of my Mexican heritage,” Ronstadt said in a statement. “I love the musical traditions that came with it. I always thought they were world-class songs. And I thought they were songs that the music could transcend the language barrier.”
Other notable albums added to the 2022 registry include Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor, Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time and Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), from 1993. According to the Library of Congress, that album “would shape the sound of hardcore rap and reasserted the creative capacity of the East Coast rap scene. The group’s individual artists would go on to produce affiliated projects that deepened the group’s influence for decades in hip-hop.”
But the list also dusts off more obscure, esoteric and offbeat contributions. The earliest recording — 1921’s “Harlem Strut” — is the first known recording by jazz pianist James P. Johnson, who also composed “The Charleston.” And the most recent addition, from nearly a century later, is a podcast episode: WTF with Marc Maron, from 2010, featured Robin Williams in a warm, rambling, and startlingly intimate conversation. Four years later, the comedian would be dead from suicide at age 63.
“The National Recording Registry reflects the diverse music and voices that have shaped our nation’s history and culture through recorded sound,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden as part of the announcement. Along with several of the featured artists, she will be interviewed as part of the series, “The Sounds of America,” from NPR’s 1A, which focuses on this year’s selections for the National Recording Registry.
Those selections follow, in chronological order:
1. “Harlem Strut” — James P. Johnson (1921)
2. Franklin D. Roosevelt: Complete Presidential Speeches (1933-1945)
3. “Walking the Floor Over You” — Ernest Tubb (1941) (single)
4. “On a Note of Triumph” (May 8, 1945)
5. “Jesus Gave Me Water” — The Soul Stirrers (1950) (single)
6. “Ellington at Newport” — Duke Ellington (1956) (album)
7. “We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite” — Max Roach (1960) (album)
8. “The Christmas Song” — Nat King Cole (1961) (single)
9. “Tonight’s the Night” — The Shirelles (1961) (album)
10. “Moon River” — Andy Williams (1962) (single)
11. “In C” — Terry Riley (1968) (album)
12. “It’s a Small World” — The Disneyland Boys Choir (1964) (single)
13. “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” — The Four Tops (1966) (single)
14. Hank Aaron’s 715th Career Home Run (April 8, 1974)
15. “Bohemian Rhapsody” — Queen (1975) (single)
16. “Don’t Stop Believin'” — Journey (1981) (single)
17. “Canciones de Mi Padre” — Linda Ronstadt (1987) (album)
18. “Nick of Time” — Bonnie Raitt (1989) (album)
19. “The Low End Theory” — A Tribe Called Quest (1991) (album)
20. “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” — Wu-Tang Clan (1993) (album)
21. “Buena Vista Social Club” (1997) (album)
22. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” — Ricky Martin (1999) (single)
23. “Songs in A Minor” — Alicia Keys (2001) (album)
24. WNYC broadcasts for the day of 9/11 (Sept. 11, 2001)
25. “WTF with Marc Maron” (Guest: Robin Williams) (April 26, 2010)