National Registry preserves recordings

Science, politics and music that moved us

WASHINGTON -- We don't think much about the Internet winging messages across the globe at blinding speeds, but in 1925 the first broadcast that spanned the Atlantic was a technological marvel.

A recording of that broadcast joins the world's best-selling album, political speeches, a collection of Navajo songs and pop, blues, country, jazz and musical theater classics among recordings newly deemed worthy of preservation for future generations. (AUDIO: Listen to sample recordings at left)

Librarian of Congress James Billington on Wednesday announced the 25 additions to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress as part of its efforts to preserve the nation's aural history by archiving recordings deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

The inductees range from Michael Jackson's 1982 all-time best-seller "Thriller" and T-Bone Walker's "Call It Stormy Monday but Tuesday Is Just as Bad" to the 1977 record of Earth sounds that flew aboard the spacecraft Voyager in the event alien life forms encountered the craft. Other recordings added to the registry include works by Roy Orbison, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Kitty Wells and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and the original cast recording of "My Fair Lady."

Appropriately in an election year, this year's list also includes President Truman's 1948 speech at the Democratic National Convention and future President Reagan's radio broadcasts from 1976-79. New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia reading comics to children during a 1945 newspaper delivery strike also made the cut.

A technological breakthrough in broadcasting was included: a 37-minute broadcast that originated in London, traveled by land line to station 5XX in Chelmsford, then crossed the Atlantic and was picked up by an RCA transmitter in Maine and relayed to WJZ New York and WRC Washington.

"Audio preservation constitutes a critical challenge," Billington said. "Much has already been lost, particularly in the field of radio."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The full list of recordings is on the next page.

2007 National Recording Registry (in chronological order)

"The First Transatlantic Broadcast (March 14, 1925)

"Allons a Lafayette," Joseph Falcon (1928)

"Casta Diva," from Bellini's "Norma"; Rosa Ponselle, accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Giulio Setti. (Dec. 31, 1928, and Jan. 30, 1929)

"If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again," Thomas A. Dorsey (1934)

"Sweet Lorraine," Art Tatum (Feb. 22, 1940)

Fibber's Closet Opens for the First Time, "Fibber McGee and Molly" radio program (March 4, 1940)

Wings Over Jordan, Wings Over Jordan (1941)

Fiorello LaGuardia reading the comics (1945)

"Call It Stormy Monday but Tuesday Is Just as Bad," T-Bone Walker (1947)

Harry S. Truman speech at the 1948 Democratic National Convention (July 15, 1948)

"The Jazz Scene," various artists (1949)

"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," Kitty Wells (May 30, 1952)

"My Fair Lady," original cast recording (1956)

Navajo Shootingway Ceremony Field Recordings, recorded by David McAllester (1957-58)

"'Freight Train,' and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes," Elizabeth Cotten (1959)

Marine Band Concert Album to Help Benefit the National Cultural Center (1963)

"Oh, Pretty Woman," Roy Orbison (1964)

"Tracks of My Tears," Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (1965)

"You'll Sing a Song and I'll Sing a Song," Ella Jenkins (1966)

Music from the Morning of the World," various artists; recorded by David Lewiston (1966)

"For the Roses," Joni Mitchell (1972)

"Headhunters," Herbie Hancock (1973)

Ronald Reagan Radio Broadcasts (1976-79)

"The Sounds of Earth," disc prepared for the Voyager spacecraft (1977)

"Thriller," Michael Jackson (1982)