Listen to This: The Class of 2021

It’s here at last! Typically the National Recording Registry announces its annual roster of inductees in mid-to-late March, and although the NRR Class of 2021 didn’t arrive until today, it was worth the wait. Below are the latest 25 recordings to make the registry, with embedded links where available.

  1. Harlem Strut” — James P. Johnson (1921) 
  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt: Complete Presidential Speeches (1933-1945)
  3. Walking the Floor Over You” — Ernest Tubb (1941) (single)
  4. On a Note of Triumph” – Norman Corwin, Martin Gabel (May 8, 1945)
  5. Jesus Gave Me Water” — The Soul Stirrers (1950) (single)
  6. Ellington at Newport” — Duke Ellington (1956) (album)
  7. We Insist!  Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite” — Max Roach (1960) (album)
  8. The Christmas Song” — Nat King Cole (1961) (single)
  9. Tonight’s the Night” — The Shirelles (1961) (album)
  10.  “Moon River” — Andy Williams (1962) (single)
  11.  “In C” — Terry Riley (1968) (album)
  12.  “It’s a Small World” — The Disneyland Boys Choir (1964) (single)
  13.  “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” — The Four Tops (1966) (single)
  14.  Hank Aaron’s 715th Career Home Run – Milo Hamilton (April 8, 1974)
  15.  “Bohemian Rhapsody” — Queen (1975) (single)
  16.  “Don’t Stop Believin’” — Journey (1981) (single)
  17.  “Canciones de Mi Padre” — Linda Ronstadt (1987) (album)
  18.  “Nick of Time” — Bonnie Raitt (1989) (album)
  19.  “The Low End Theory” — A Tribe Called Quest (1991) (album)
  20.  “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” — Wu-Tang Clan (1993) (album)
  21.  “Buena Vista Social Club” (1997) (album)
  22.  “Livin’ La Vida Loca” — Ricky Martin (1999) (single)
  23.  “Songs in A Minor” — Alicia Keys (2001) (album)
  24.  WNYC broadcasts for the day of 9/11 (Sept. 11, 2001) 
  25.  “WTF with Marc Maron” (Guest: Robin Williams) (April 26, 2010)

As always, it’s an eclectic list with a lot of worthy inclusions. This year definitely has a few “Wasn’t that already on this list?” entires (“Moon River” and “The Christmas Song” come to mind), but my reaction to most of these recordings was an immediate head nod of approval. And although my attempt to get Robin Williams on one of these registries probably had nothing to do with this, I’m happy to see him represented from an unexpected source.

As always, you can submit your own nominees for consideration, as well as listen to this year’s inductees on the NRR’s official playlist. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to spend the next several days trying to get “Livin’ La Vida Loca” out of my head (a sentence I haven’t said in over 20 years).

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