Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today named 25 recordings as audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage.
“The National Recording Registry will preserve our history through these vibrant recordings of music and voices that have reflected our humanity and shaped our culture from the past 143 years,” Hayden said. “We received about 900 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry, and we welcome the public’s input as the Library of Congress and its partners preserve the diverse sounds of history and culture.”
The recordings most recently selected for the National Recording Registry bring the number of titles on the registry to 575, representing a small portion of the national library’s vast recorded sound collection of nearly 3 million items.
“The Harder They Come” soundtrack is only the second reggae album to be inducted with the first being “Burnin’ ” by The Wailers.
The 25 albums honoured include Janet Jackson’s clarion call for action and healing in “Rhythm Nation 1814” and joins other groundbreaking sounds of history and culture among the latest titles inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, including Louis Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” Nas’ “Illmatic,” Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” and Kermit the Frog’s “The Rainbow Connection.”
The Harder They Come makes List
The latest selections named to the registry, spanning from 1878 to 2008, range from pop, hip-hop and country to reggae, Latin, Hawaiian, jazz, blues, gospel, classical and children’s music.
NPR’s “1A” will host several features in the series, “The Sounds of America,” on the National Recording Registry selections, including interviews with Jimmy Cliff, Chris Blackwell, Kwame Dawes and Justine Henzell regarding the significance of The Harder They Come. Follow the conversation about the registry on Twitter and Instagram @librarycongress and #NatRecRegistry and @THTCthemovie.
Music that Endures
The enduring cultural impact of music reveals itself in various ways: over time for some songs, through numerous covers inspired by the original, or perhaps from the perennial use of certain music in movies, television, celebrations and on dance floors. This has made some tunes familiar sounds of America’s shared songbook, including “Lady Marmalade,” recorded by Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World” recorded by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole in 1993, and “Celebration” recorded by Kool & the Gang in 1980.
Some albums inducted this year into the recording registry demonstrated the power to influence entire genres of music. When Nas released his 1994 hip-hop album “Illmatic,” fans celebrated it for its rhythmic originality and complexity, and its technique has been widely copied since.
In the case of reggae, “The Harder They Come” was the first Jamaican-produced feature film in 1972. The movie soundtrack, released on Island Records, features six songs recorded by Cliff has been credited with taking reggae worldwide while also presenting other reggae stars like Toots & the Maytals to a global audience.
About the National Recording Registry
Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian of Congress, with advice from the National Recording Preservation Board, selects 25 titles each year that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. You can find more information on the National Recording Registry at loc.gov/programs/national-recording-preservation-board/about-this-program/. The public may nominate recordings for the Registry here.