Every year since 2000, the Library of Congress has picked the recordings that they consider American treasures — whether recorded in the United States or not. On Wednesday, the library announced 25 selections based on the songs' historic, aesthetic or cultural significance. They do not disappoint.
These are quite simply some of the best recordings you could pick to represent our country's musical output. Among the best picks are Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" and Radiohead's OK Computer, but every single one is a gem:
The library's yearly selections are an effort to preserve the American aural tradition — both music and words. The only other requirement is that the recording be at least 10 years old.
"Congress understood the importance of protecting America's aural patrimony when it passed the National Recording Preservation Act 15 years ago," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a press release. "By preserving these recordings, we safeguard the words, sounds and music that embody who we are as a people and a nation."
"It's not just very famous commercial recordings, but it's also regional, educational recordings, that sort of thing," Steve Leggett, program coordinator for the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress told Mic. "And also to highlight the need for their preservation. This is a tool we use to help the public realize how valuable that heritage is and why it needs to be preserved."
In true American form, entries are chosen through a democratic process. The library gathers nominations via public submission along with input from the its internal National Recording Preservation Board. The library houses some 3 million audio recordings and has preserved 425 entries since the inception of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000.
Once chosen, the recordings are preserved in their best audio format and housed in the library's Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia. This year, phenomenal recordings like Joan Baez's and The Doors' self-titled albums and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers will stand alongside novelties like Sesame Street: All-Time Platinum Favorites and Steve Martin's spoken-word album, A Wild and Crazy Guy.
These recordings will join some of the most legendary American output from the history of recorded sound. Beginning with oddities like Thomas Edison's "Around the World on the Phonograph," the registry also includes high points like "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins, the D-Day Radio Broadcast by George Hicks, West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, Giant Steps by John Coltrane, the recording of "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, The Band by The Band, The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley. If you want the ultimate historical playlist, head over to the Library of Congress and start listening.