Songs by Donna Summer, Dolly Parton and The Sugarhill Gang as well as 1930s and ’40s news reports and speech excerpts from journalist Edward R. Murrow’s “I Can Hear It Now” radio program were recognized. Also field recordings with the voices of former slaves made from 1932 to 1941; Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man” and “Bo Diddley,” both from 1955, and Booker T. & the MGs’ 1962 soul instrumental “Green Onions are becoming even more legendary with this inclusion.
“America’s sound heritage is an important part of the nation’s history and culture and this year’s selections reflect the diversity and creativity of the American experience,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement.
Case in point: The first commercial sound recording is a version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” from a small cylinder created in 1888 by Thomas Edison’s company for use in a talking doll that was a commercial failure. The recording, discovered in 1967, was considered unplayable until 2011, when it was scanned in three dimensions using digital mapping tools created at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with the Library of Congress.
I made a playlist with a number of the recordings. The public can nominate recordings at www.loc.gov/nrpb.
In related news, Bob Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom award. President Obama presented Bob Dylan with the Medal of Freedom, saying, “There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music.” It is the United States’ highest civilian honor and is awarded for meritorious contributions to the national interest of the United States, to world peace, or to other significant endeavors”.
Past medal recipients include, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Congratulations to Mr. Bob Dylan!