Library of Congress Honors Bowie, Eagles & Moreby Best Classic Bands Staff
Each year the Library of Congress chooses 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” works to preserve in its National Recording Registry. The latest batch of honorees was announced today (March 29) and it includes—as is usually the case—a wide array of landmark musical achievements spanning multiple genres (and even a couple of non-musical recordings).
The library this year has named the albums The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie, the Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) and Remain in Light from Talking Heads. The National Recording Registry also named several rock-related individual songs as worthy of enshrinement, including Don McLean’s epic tale “American Pie,” Wilson Pickett’s 1965 soul classic “In the Midnight Hour” and “We Are Family,” the disco hit by Sister Sledge, whose member Joni Sledge died on March 10. The original version of “Hound Dog” by Big Mama Thornton, which Elvis Presley turned into a seminal rock ’n’ roll hit, also got the nod.
Non-rock selections include Judy Garland’s original “Over the Rainbow.” Barbra Streisand’s “People,” N.W.A.’s rap album Straight Outta Compton and Judy Collins’ rendition of “Amazing Grace. The library also honored a Richard Pryor comedy album, the original cast album of The Wiz, jazz albums by Wes Montgomery and Sonny Rollins and even a sports broadcast, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, announced by Vin Scully.
In its descriptions of the chosen recordings, the library said of the 1972 Bowie album: “On this apocalyptic concept album, Bowie combined several themes from his previous work to create the persona of Ziggy, an androgynous rock star who communicates with space aliens and whose rise and fall heralds the end of the world.”
On the McLean classic: “After a decade of social and musical tumult, new affection for ’50s rock ’n’ roll was growing not only among its original fans but with new generations. ‘American Pie’ seemed to reach all of them with its cascade of images from 1959 to 1969 and a chorus that was both playful and ominous.”
Related: “American Pie” – The true story
Regarding the Eagles’ hits package, the library noted that the group was initially reluctant to release the collection. “Nevertheless, fans loved the greatest hits, and it undeniably elevated the stature of the Eagles, making them one of the most successful and best-loved groups of their era.”
In a statement following the announcement, McLean said, “With few exceptions, American music is the whole of popular music. We have done it all, written the greatest songs and produced the greatest artists. I am so proud to be a part of this creative effort.”
The total number of recordings in the National Recording Registry is now 475. A recording must be at least 10 years old to qualify.
Watch Wilson Pickett perform “In the Midnight Hour”
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