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‘Blueberry Hill’ hits the Historic 50

National Recording Registry's '06 picks include Fats Domino, Sonic Youth
/ Source: The Associated Press

A high school band plays Beethoven. President Calvin Coolidge delivers his inaugural address. Fats Domino turns “Blueberry Hill,” which had been a hit for 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 Modesto, Calif., High School band did well in competitions of the 1920s and 1930s. But the library noted that 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.

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 audience was estimated at 70 million. “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.

Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” was performed the same year by the NBC Symphony, led by Arturo Toscanini. The library noted that the work has been called the “American anthem for sadness and grief.”

Every year since 2000, the library has registered recordings “that are culturally. historically or aesthetically important and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.” Last year it unveiled newly discovered tapes of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane from 1957 — a discovery that yielded one of the top-selling jazz CDs of 2005.