See the 25 Recordings the Library of Congress Will Preserve

1 minute read

Listen to the recordings here.

"The Doors" original album. Courtesy Elektra.
The Doors' self-titled 1967 debut album featured the hit "Light My Fire" as well as the 12-minute Oedipal drama "The End." (Elektra/Library of Congress)Elektra/Library of Congress
National Recording Registry Library of Congress Music
Lyricist Johnny Mercer's own take on his peppy sermon, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," was more popular than a version released by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters that same month. (Capitol Records/Library of Congress)Capitol Records/Library of Congress
National Recording Registry Library of Congress Music
On "Songs of the Old Regular Baptists," the Kentucky choir sings a once-popular style of hymn in a call-and-response style. (Smithsonian Folkways/Library of Congress)Smithsonian Folkways/Library of Congress
National Recording Registry Library of Congress Music
A collection of 101 homemade recordings from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair features world music from special international "villages," including some of the earliest know recordings of non-Western styles such as Javanese Gamelan. (Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)Chicago History Museum/Getty Images
Joan Baez. Photo by William Claxton.
The self-titled debut album of folk singer Joan Baez was a key part of the folk revival movement in the 1960s. (William Claxton—Library of Congress)William Claxton—Library of Congress
"John Brown's Body" (1953 album release). Courtesy Columbia Masterworks.
The 1953 double-album "John Brown's Body" was a landmark recording of a theater project about the Civil War. (Columbia Masterworks/Library of Congress)Columbia Masterworks/Library of Congress
Sweet Emma Barrett and the Preservation Hall Jazz band, veterans of New Orleans jazz, performed before a live audience on this 1964 album, which helped spark a revival of interest in the older style. (Preservation Hall/Library of Congress)Preservation Hall/Library of Congress
“Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman”—Joan Tower (CD cover). Courtesy KOCH International.
A five-part composition written between 1986 and 1993 by composer Jaon Tower, "Fanfares for the Common Woman" celebrated women in music. (KOCH International/Library of Congress)KOCH International/Library of Congress
“OK Computer” original CD cover. Courtesy Capitol Records.
Radiohead's 1997 alt-rock album "OK Computer" was an instant classic due to its complex blend of different musical styles. (Capitol Records/Library of Congress)Capitol Records/Library of Congress
National Recording Registry Library of Congress Music
A collection of rare homemade recordings made from the 1890s to the 1910s housed at the University of California, Santa Barbara features families singing, people telling jokes and even the sounds of barnyard animals.Museum of Science and Industry/Getty Images
National Recording Registry Library of Congress Music
Blind Lemon Jefferson's rural style of the blues, captured on a 1928 single "Black Snake Moan" / "Match Box Blues" was influential in broadening the genre. (GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images)GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images
National Recording Registry Library of Congress Music
Irish fiddler Michael Coleman, who moved to New York City in 1914, brought new respect to traditional Irish music with his highly skilled playing. (Viva Voce/Library of Congress)Viva Voce/Library of Congress
Steve Martin. Courtesy Warner Records.
Steve Martin's 1978 comedy album "A Wild and Crazy Guy" was notable for eschewing formulaic jokes and for bits like "King Tut." (Warner Records/Library of Congress)Warner Records/Library of Congress
The Swan Silvertones. Courtesy Vee-Jay Records.
The 1959 recording of the gospel classic "Mary Don't You Weep" broke new ground musically and became an anthem of the civil rights movement. (Vee-Jay Records/Library of Congress)Vee-Jay Records/Library of Congress
Chet Baker. Library of Congress Collections.
Trumpeter Chet Baker was a featured player on the Gerry Mulligan Quartet's live performance of jazz standard "My Funny Valentine," a powerful West Coast cool jazz classic. (Library of Congress)Library of Congress
National Recording Registry Library of Congress Music
Radio coverage of the 1945 funeral of President Franklin D. Roosevelt featured veteran broadcaster Arthur Godfrey breaking down emotionally. (George Tames—Library of Congress)George Tames—Library of Congress
National Recording Registry Library of Congress Music
After the breakup of the Fugees, Lauryn Hill released an acclaimed 1998 solo album that fused soul, R&B, rap and reggae. (Lauryn Hill/Library of Congress)Lauryn Hill/Library of Congress
Cole Porter. Library of Congress Collections.
Cole Porter's first musical to integrate songs and the storyline was a retelling of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." (Library of Congress)Library of Congress
The cast of "Sesame Street." Courtesy Sesame Workshop.
The musicians behind "Sesame Street" strived to write inventive, humorous songs such as "Rubber Duckie" and "C is for Cookie" that both children and adults could enjoy. (Library of Congress)Library of Congress
Tennessee Ernie Ford. Library of Congress Collections.
Released as a B-side, Tennessee Ernie Ford's cover of "Sixteen Tons" stood out among more lighthearted country songs of the 1950s. (Library of Congress)Library of Congress
Sly and the Family Stone. Courtesy Epic Records.
Sly and the Family Stone's 1969 album Stand! was an important influence on soul and funk and is among the most sampled records of all time. (Epic Records/Library of Congress)Epic Records/Library of Congress
The Righteous Brothers. Courtesy Polydor.
The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" was among the most-played songs of the 20th century on radio and television. (Polydor/Library of Congress)Polydor/Library of Congress
Ben E. King. Courtesy Rhino Records.
Inspired by a gospel song, Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" was among the most broadcast songs of the 20th century. (Rhino Records/Library of Congress) Rhino Records/Library of Congress
“Sorry, Wrong Number” 1947 Decca issue. Courtesy Decca.
Orson Welles once called "Sorry, Wrong Number," an episode of the "Suspense" radio series, the single greatest radio script ever written. (Decca/Library of Congress)Decca/Library of Congress

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at