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Music

Library of Congress names new entries for National Recording Registry

Randy Lewis
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
Donna Summer

LOS ANGELES — Donna Summer’s throbbing 1977 hit “I Feel Love”; Prince’s 1984 “Purple Rain” album; the first known commercial sound recording, dating to 1888; the Sugar Hill Gang’s watershed rap record “Rapper’s Delight”; and 1930s and ‘40s news reports and speech excerpts from journalist Edward R. Murrow’s “I Can Hear It Now” radio program are among 25 sound recordings newly enshrined in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, library officials announced Wednesday.

Among the other new entries are Dolly Parton’s 1971 hit “Coat of Many Colors”; Parliament’s 1975 funk classic “Mothership Connection”; Stan Kenton and His Orchestra’s 1943 recording of “Artistry in Rhythm”; and Leonard Bernstein’s debut performance conducting the New York Philharmonic, also from 1943. Plus, the new registrees include field recordings with the voices of former slaves made from 1932 to 1941; Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man” and “Bo Diddley,” both from 1955, and Booker T. & the MGs’ 1962 soul instrumental “Green Onions.”

“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,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement.

Case in point: The first commercial sound recording is a version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” from a small cylinder created in 1888 by Thomas Edison’s company for use in a talking doll that was a commercial failure. The recording, discovered in 1967, was considered unplayable until 2011, when it was scanned in three dimensions using digital mapping tools created at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with the Library of Congress.

The latest batch of inductees expands the registry’s total to 350 recordings that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and which span the history of recorded sound. The recordings must be at least 10 years old to be eligible. A full list of this year’s songs chosen for the registry can be found on the library’s website. Each year, 25 recordings are added to the registry. The public can nominate recordings at www.loc.gov/nrpb.

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