Two versions of Kurt Weill’s “Mack the Knife”—by Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin— are among the recordings selected for induction into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. The song originally appeared in his stage musical, The Threepenny Opera with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht. The two selected recordings have lyrics translated by Marc Blitzstein.
Acting Librarian of Congress David S. Mao named 25 sound recordings to the registry that have been recognized for their "cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s aural legacy."
"These recordings, by a wide range of artists in many genres of music and in spoken word, will be preserved for future listeners,” Mao said in a statement. “This collection of blues, jazz, rock, country and classical recordings, interspersed with important recordings of sporting events, speeches, radio shows and comedy, helps safeguard the record of what we’ve done and who we are.”
The Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), annually selects 25 recordings that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and are at least 10 years old. The selections for the 2015 registry bring the total number of recordings on the registry to 450, only a tiny portion of the Library’s recorded-sound collection of more than 3 million items.
The 2015 registry selections span the years 1911-1986. Among the selections are Alex North's original soundtrack for the film version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Carousel of American Music, which features recordings of works by George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Arthur Freed, Shelton Brooks and Hoagy Carmichael that were captured live at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1940 during a concert that gathered top American songwriters of the day perform their own compositions.
Also on the list: the rock group Santana’s 1970 album Abraxas, two blues numbers from the 1920s (Clarence Williams’ 1923 “Wild Cat Blues” and Blind Willie McTell’s 1928 “Statesboro Blues”), Julie London’s 1955 recording of “Cry Me A River,” George Marshall’s 1947 speech outlining the Marshall Plan to restore Europe following World War II, saxophonist John Coltrane’s 1964 oeuvre “A Love Supreme,” Merle Haggard’s 1968 song “Mama Tried,” Clifton Chenier’s 1976 Zydeco album Bogalusa Boogie, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s 1964 album It’s My Way, George Carlin’s groundbreaking 1972 comedy album Class Clown and Metallica’s 1986 takeoff from its thrash-metal roots, Master of Puppets.
The Library preserves the best existing versions of each recording, which will be housed in the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, VA. The Packard Campus is home to more than 7 million collection items, including more than 3 million sound recordings.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the world’s largest library. The Library seeks to "spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions." Many of the Library’s resources can be accessed through its website at LOC.gov.