Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814”, Kermit the Frogs “The Rainbow Connection”, Marlo Thomas & Friends “Free to Be … You and Me”, Louis Armstrong’s 1938 version of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and an 1878 Thomas Edison recordings, possibly the oldest playable recording of an American voice, are among 25 recordings that have just been added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.
The register created in 2000 identifies records that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. Carla Hayden, Congress Librarian, named this year’s candidates from around 900 public nominations.
Jackson’s 1989 album, which scored seven record-breaking top five singles, may have won the most votes in the public nomination process. But it was Kermit who sat for an interview with Hayden, which was featured in a video released by the library.
“It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in a swamp playing the banjo and singing ‘Rainbow Connection’,” said the famous amphibian, remembering the opening scene of “The Muppet Movie” (which he claimed was aerial photo taken became) Sam the eagle). “Sure time is fun when you have flies … or something like that.”
(The song’s composer, Paul Williams, also appeared for a brief cameo and commented on his favorite line on the song: “It’s about the immense power of belief – trusting someone or something or a big idea,” he said “Sometimes the questions are more beautiful than the answers.”)
The rebranded recordings include a wide variety of American sounds, sampling operas, jazz, country, radio broadcasts, folk (in multiple languages) and recent pop hits, including Patti LaBelle’s 1974 single “Lady Marmalade” and Jackson Browne’s 1974 album “Late for the Sky “, Israel Kamakawiwo’oles 1993 single” Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World “and Nass 1994 album” Illmatic “.
The earliest recording was made by Edison and was made in St. Louis in July 1878, a few months after he invented his tape recorder. Recorded on a piece of aluminum foil and lasted for 78 seconds, it is believed to be the oldest playable recording of an American voice and the earliest surviving document that records a musical performance. It went unheard until 2013 when scientists announced they’d devised a way to recover sound from the foil. (The library calls it “surprisingly audible”.)
The most recent is The Giant Pool of Money, This American Life’s 2008 radio show about the subprime mortgage crisis.
Other non-musical recordings include Phil Rizzo’s play-by-play by Roger Maris ’61. Heimspiel on October 1, 1961 (Holy Cow!) And a radio episode of the soap opera “The Guiding Light” from 1945, which is described as the longest running script program in the history of broadcasting, which was on the radio from 1937 to 2009 then ran on TV.
The registry also includes lost pop hits like “Nikolina,” a 1917 song by Hjalmar Peterson, a Swedish immigrant who settled in Minnesota and became very popular with Swedish-American citizens. Peterson recorded the song – described as “his comical troubles with his father-in-law” – three times and sold a total of 100,000 copies.
The registration so far comprises a total of 575 recordings. Some of the newly selected recordings are already being held by the copyright holders, the artists or other archives. Where this is not the case, the Library of Congress, whose recorded sound collection includes nearly 3 million items, will ensure that they are preserved and made available to future generations.