Manteca to Nirvana
April 6, 2005 10:00 AM   Subscribe

The latest additions to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress have just been announced. This year's additions of "culturally, historically or aesthetically important" works include "Swanee'" by Al Jolson, Edward R. Murrow's radio reports from London during WWII, and "Fear of a Black Planet" by Public Enemy. View the full registry here, selection criteria and nomination information here.
posted by me3dia (17 comments total)
Wow... other notable recent (and semi-recent) recordings added:

The Beach Boys Pet Sounds
James Brown Live At The Apollo
Nirvana Nevermind

Those are three amazing, amazingly GOOD choices.

Not sure I like seeing the Star Wars soundtrack on there, though. From the link:
"This soundtrack score has been credited with reviving symphonic film scores in Hollywood motion pictures."

I don't think that's necessarily a good thing.
posted by BoringPostcards at 10:13 AM on April 6, 2005

These lists are always strange for thier choices, what they leave out, what they include. The Pubilc Enemy is perhaps an instructive choice, since It Takes A Nation Of Millions... was not only a much better album, but much more influential as well. But it was not as popular, a little bit more confined to hip hop culture than the later record, with no Fight The Power. So the trade off is between popularity and influence, at least in that case.

They also include the first installment of Prarie Home Companion, which seems like just an out and out mistake, even though I like the show. How is it more important in any way than the golden age of radio shows that it self-consciously tries to recreate. It's a bit like including a copy of the Mona Lisa in a similar list of important paintings.
posted by OmieWise at 10:26 AM on April 6, 2005

*their ahhhk
posted by OmieWise at 10:27 AM on April 6, 2005

There's something poetic about including Al Jolson, who became famous for performing in blackface, and Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet in the same addition.
posted by goatdog at 10:27 AM on April 6, 2005

Omnie: Heh. I was gonna snark about Nation of Millions. But you beat me to it.
The LOC is awesome anyway. I've been hardcore lovin' their mp3s...
posted by klangklangston at 11:11 AM on April 6, 2005

klangklangston, I had no idea about the MP3s. Thanks for the tip!
posted by goatdog at 11:25 AM on April 6, 2005

Public Enemy No. 1
posted by caddis at 12:13 PM on April 6, 2005

Thanks for the post; good stuff there. However, you left Nirvana out of your writeup. Here is me cyber-slapping you for that offense.

posted by bwilliams at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2005

Whatever. Check the title.

Regardless, I think the Public Enemy inclusion is more interesting than Nirvana's. But i'm not going to get into that argument here.
posted by me3dia at 1:30 PM on April 6, 2005

"Elvis was a hero to most but he—
 Elvis was a hero to most—
 Elvis was a hero to most but never meant shit to me
 Y'see, straight out racist; the sucker was simple and plain
 Motherfuck him AND John Wayne."

Truer words were never spoken.
posted by Eideteker at 2:18 PM on April 6, 2005

As much as I like Public Enemy, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five remains my favorite rap group. From The Message:

Don't push me, cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to loose my head
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

A child is born, wih no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smiling but he is frowning too
Cause only god knows what you go through
You grow in the ghetto, living second rate
And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alley way
You'll admire all the numberbook takers;
thugs, pimps, pushers and the big money makers
Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
And you wanna grow up to be just like them
Smugglers, scrambles, burglars, gamblers
Pickpocketers, peddlers and even pan-handlers
You say I'm cool, I'm no fool
But then you wind up dropping out of highschool
Now you're unemployed, all null 'n' void
Walking around like you're pretty boy Floyd
Turned stickup kid, look what you done did
Got send up for a eight year bid
Now your man hood is took and you're a Maytag
Spend the next two years as an undercover fag
Being used and abused, and served like hell
Till one day you was find hung dead in a cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young

posted by caddis at 2:30 PM on April 6, 2005

Caddis, note that "The Message" was one of the first nominees, in 2002.
posted by me3dia at 2:52 PM on April 6, 2005

I missed that, and I am glad you pointed me to it as there was an awful lot of good stuff nominated in 2002.
posted by caddis at 2:58 PM on April 6, 2005

I'd just like to point out that they included one of the pinnacles of American culture, "Body and Soul" by Coleman Hawkins (1939). But you whippersnappers wouldn't know about that.
*mutters unintelligibly, spits sunflower seeds on porch*
posted by languagehat at 4:47 PM on April 6, 2005

You weren't the only one who noticed that languagehat.
posted by caddis at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2005

In addition to Body and Soul there were many other gems nominated in 2002, including:

"Strange Fruit." Billie Holiday. (1939)

"Down-Hearted Blues." Bessie Smith. (1923)

Rhapsody in Blue. George Gershwin, piano; Paul Whiteman Orchestra. (1924)

Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings. (1925-1928)

"This Land is Your Land." Woody Guthrie. (1944)

Elvis Presley's Sun Records sessions. (1954-1955)

Kind of Blue. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, and others. (1959)

"What'd I Say," parts 1 and 2. Ray Charles. (1959)

Freewheelin'. Bob Dylan. (1963)

"Respect!" Aretha Franklin. (1967)

"The Message." Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. (1982)

. . . not to mention non-musical entries such as the "I Had a Dream" speech and others.

The LOC serves us well with this project. Billington himself cannot be choosing these, or he has some taste, as he is an 80 year old Princeton grad, not your typical Grandmaster Flash fan. Regardless, he has done a great job at the LOC. His twin brother David is no slouch either.
posted by caddis at 5:53 PM on April 6, 2005

Agreed. It's hard to imagine a better job. Kudos all around.
posted by languagehat at 5:24 AM on April 7, 2005

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