NPR logo

Bands, Presidents Join National Recording Registry

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Bands, Presidents Join National Recording Registry


Bands, Presidents Join National Recording Registry

Bands, Presidents Join National Recording Registry

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Library of Congress has selected 50 recordings to preserve in the National Recording Registry. It includes a Modesto, Calif., high school band playing Beethoven in 1930, a recording of the first official transatlantic telephone conversation, Calvin Coolidge's 1925 inauguration, and the radio broadcast of the Joe Louis, Max Schmeling fight in 1938. Plus, songs from Stevie Wonder, Sonic Youth, Mahalia Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Martha and the Vandellas. We speak to Eugene DeAnna, head of the Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress.


The National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress added 50 sound recordings to its collection today. It's an attempt to preserve sounds that are culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. Among the items selected, Calvin Coolidge's 1925 inauguration speech.


CALVIN COOLIDGE: My countrymen, no one can contend with current conditions without finding much that is satisfying and still more that is encouraging.

SIEGEL: Also, Bob Hope's first appearance on the radio show, Command Performance, on July 7, 1942.


BOB HOPE: Say, thank you, Paul Douglas, and hi, you fellows. This is Bob Rubber Drive Hope, telling you guys out there that we're all going to keep turning in our rubber suspenders until we've caught the axis with our pantsers down.


SIEGEL: And a 1938 recording of Arturo Toscanini, conducting the NBC Symphony's performance of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. Now, all of these are what you might call old and scratchy and ripe for preservation, but Stevie Wonder?


STEVIE WONDER: Isn't she pretty, truly the angel's best?

EUGENE DEANNA: When we think about preserving audio, you look at Stevie Wonder SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE, and you think that doesn't need to be preserved, I have a copy of that in my record collection.

SIEGEL: That's Eugene DeAnna, Head of the Recorded Sound section of the Library of Congress.

DEANNA: SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE, as a recording and music aside, it was such a crafted work. He actually spent two years in the studio working on that recording, layering tracks, bringing in guest musicians, so when you look at the recording process itself, it's one of those landmark works.

SIEGEL: And Stevie Wonder's not the only chart-topper added to the National Recording Registry. There's Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis, Dancing in the Streets by Martha and the Vandellas, Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill and, Gen X-ers brace yourself, Sonic Youth is slated for preservation.


SIEGEL: Eugene Deanna says the library receives nominations for the National Recording Registry from the public and even if a sound recording doesn't make it in one year, it remains on the list for future consideration. Sometimes, he says, it's a matter of tracking down the original or the best recording of a song, a speech or a performance.

To see the full list of the registry's recordings, you can visit the Library of Congress's website,


You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.