- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006


A high school band plays Beethoven. President Calvin Coolidge delivers his inaugural address. Fats Domino turns “Blueberry Hill,” a hit for big-band leader Glenn Miller, into a rock ‘n’ roll classic.

They’re among the 50 records that the Library of Congress has deemed worthy of preservation this year.

“The National Recording Registry represents a stunning array of the diversity, humanity and creativity found in our sound heritage, nothing less than a flood of noise and sound pulsating into the American bloodstream,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in announcing the choices for 2006.

The library took the occasion to announce a rare find: a 1940 jam session featuring tenor saxophonist Lester Young. The nightclub couldn’t be identified positively, said Gene DeAnna, head of the library’s recorded-sound section, but it may have been the Village Vanguard in downtown Manhattan.

“It wasn’t Carnegie Hall,” Mr. DeAnna said at a press conference. “At one point you can hear the [master of ceremonies] announcing, ‘The chili con carne is ready, if anyone wants to order it.’”

Loren Schoenberg, executive director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem, compared it with finding a Shakespeare sonnet or a short story by Ernest Hemingway.

The library also announced that it recently had received 186 test pressings of records made in the late 1950s or early 1960s, among them 25 songs by bluesman Robert Johnson. The pressings, donated by blues collector Tom Jacobsen, were used to make the first Johnson reissue anthology, “King of the Delta Blues,” which influenced the Rolling Stones and other groups.

The Modesto, Calif., High School band did well in competitions of the 1920s and 1930s. Few high school bands were recorded until the late 1940s, making the Modesto school’s 1930 version of Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture” a rarity.

Coolidge, known as a man of few words, spoke for 47 minutes in the first broadcast inaugural address. A circuit of 21 radio stations was put together for the event in 1925.

Fats Domino recorded his relaxed version of “Blueberry Hill,” adding Creole cadences, in Los Angeles in 1956. He was inspired by a Louis Armstrong version of the song, which Miller had taken to No. 1 in 1940.

Other rock classics being inducted include Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day,” both from 1957; the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Are You Experienced?” from 1967; and Sonic Youth’s landmark noise-rock album “Daydream Nation,” from 1988.

Other sounds to be preserved include a radio broadcast by Clem McCarthy of Joe Louis’ first-round knockout of Max Schmeling in 1938.

“The symbolism of an African-American defeating a citizen of the political state that proclaimed the superiority of the white race was lost on no one,” the library commented.



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