The Library of Congress said today it will preserve everything from a tinny 1888 recording of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to Prince’s incendiary album “Purple Rain” as part of its latest slate of entries to the National Recording Registry.
The Library each year preserves 25 recordings it feels are “cultural, artistic and/or historical treasures for generations to come.” This year, a wide variety of recordings will be added, including:
- Bo Diddley’s songs “Bo Diddley” and “I’m A Man,”
- Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” recognized as the first hit rap song,
- Booker T and the MG’s “Green Onions,”
- Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy soundtrack to “A Charlie Brown Christmas,”
- Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors,”
- Parliament’s album “Mothership Connection,”
- A May 1977 concert by the Grateful Dead, and
- Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.”
Thomas Edison recorded an anonymous employee singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for a talking doll. It may sound unnervingly spooky, but it is believed to be the first commercial children’s recording, and possibly the first time someone was paid to sing on record. The registry also has audio of former slaves telling their life stories, Leonard Bernstein’s debut performance with the New York Philharmonic, and journalist Edward R. Murrow.
The announced preservations of “I Feel Love” and “Green Onions” come not long after Summer and Donald “Duck” Dunn, bassist for Booker T and the MGs, passed away. The Associated Press reported that the Library had already chosen Summer’s song weeks before she died of cancer.
But I find the government’s enshrinement of the “Purple Rain” album somewhat ironic, given that its highly sexual song “Darling Nikki” led then-senator’s wife and future First Lady Tipper Gore to lead a campaign against smutty rock music.
To put you in the right frame of mind for your drive home, enjoy this 70s-tastic performance of “Rapper’s Delight.” Ho-tel, mo-tel, Holiday Inn!