Etta James joins Registry ‘At Last’

Library of Congress to preserve 25 recordings

Etta James’ recording of “At Last,” the unofficial theme song of the Obama administration, is one of 25 recordings to be preserved for posterity by the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

The 25 additions for 2008 range from rock ‘n’ roll anthems (the Who’s original 1966 version of “My Generation”) to curio symbols of rural Americana (Arthur Allen and Peter Paul Kellogg’s 1935 recording of the sounds of the ivory-billed woodpecker).

These audio documents, in line with the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, and with input from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board, represent the library’s mandate to select 25 recordings annually that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and at least 10 years old. The latest additions bring the total number of recordings to 275.

“This year’s selections lovingly reflect the diversity and humanity of our sound heritage where astonishing discoveries and a vibrant creative spirit seem to appear around every corner,” said James Billington, librarian of Congress, in Tuesday’s announcement.

Other entries, culled from the years 1908-66, include violinist Jascha Heifetz’s acoustic recordings for Victor Records from 1917-24; NBC Radio’s coverage of opera singer Marian Anderson’s Easter Sunday recital at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939; Caedmon Records’ recording of Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” from 1952; the original Broadway cast recording of “West Side Story” from 1957; and the Kingston Trio’s version of “Tom Dooley” on Capitol Records in 1958.

To access the full list go to Loc.gov/today/pr/2009/index.html.

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