Each year, the Library of Congress adds 25 of the most “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” sound recordings to the National Recording Registry. It recently announced a new class of Registry members—and you can check many of them out at Greene County Public Library.
This year’s additions to the Registry include aural treasures reflecting the breadth of the American experience. New members include Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine’s “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” and the soundtrack of the Hollywood musical The Sound of Music. The Registry now includes 500 titles that the Library of Congress will preserve.
Check out some of this year’s additions below. (Where the Registry includes singles, we have listed an album that contains that song.) See the full list of additions to this year’s class, and nominate recordings for inclusion next year at the Library of Congress website.
By Bill Haley and His Comets
The single “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” is now recognized as the definitive anthem of rock and roll, but its recording session suffered technical difficulties, and it only became a breakaway hit when it was included in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle.
By Tony Bennett
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” is the hallmark song of Tony Bennett’s career, but he didn’t expect it when recording. It was originally released as the B-side to “Once Upon a Time,” but DJs and listeners preferred it and made it into the legend it is today.
By The Temptations
Smokey Robinson wrote the single “My Girl” for Temptations tenor David Ruffin. Robinson thought Ruffin just needed the right song to become a star—and he was right. “My Girl” remained a staple of jukeboxes for decades and became a Motown classic.
By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Hollywood musicals were on the decline in 1965, but that didn’t stop The Sound of Music from becoming one of the biggest box office hits in history—thanks in no small part to the soundtrack of beloved songs, led by Oscar-winner Julie Andrews.
By Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Guthrie’s signature song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” is an 18-minute monologue set to music, telling the wildly improbable tale of how taking out the trash on Thanksgiving day led Guthrie to be arrested for littering—and ultimately rejected by the draft board. It serves as both comedy and anti-war statement, and has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition for many families and other groups.
By Fleetwood Mac
Forged by the crumbling relationships of every member of the group, the members of Fleetwood Mac were barely speaking to each other while recording the album of songs about each other. The group knew the songs were strong though, and endured, creating a musical masterpiece.
By Kenny Rogers
“The Gambler” was recorded twice—by Bobby Bare and Johnny Cash—before Kenny Rogers turned it into a pop and country crossover megahit. The song even led to a series of made-for-TV movies and a duet between Rogers and The Muppets.
By Atlantic Recording Corporation
“Le Freak” by Chic had a unique sound and a hot dance beat, and it celebrated the dance scene, both current (with its reference to “54”) and the past (“the Savoy”). Chic’s work went on to influence acts like Madonna, the Pointer Sisters, and Justin Timberlake, and despite the “death” of disco, the song is still a staple of wedding receptions, movie soundtracks, and nightclubs.
The 1984 movie Footloose, one of the biggest hits of the decade, was inspired by real-life events, and the film’s title tune, performed by Kenny Loggins, remains emblematic of the 1980s: fun, invigorating, and a bit rebellious. The song stayed on the Billboard charts for 16 weeks.
Run-DMC’s third album introduced hip-hop to mainstream audiences. As the band observed in its song “My Adidas”, the album “took the beat from the street and put it on TV.”
By Gloria Estefan
Gloria Estefan has been recognized for her superb vocal abilities and her Latin rhythms. “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” the first single from “Let It Loose,” became a modern classic thanks to Estefan’s spirited vocals and Sound Machine drummer Enrique Garcia’s pounding backbeat and lively congas.