Just a few of the SHOF inductees honored in the class of 2023 (left to right): Dave Stewart & Annie Lennox, Burt Bacharach & Hal David and Jackie DeShannon
Works by Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees and honorees once again led the elite list of recordings selected by the Library of Congress for what has been called “America’s Playlist,” an exclusive catalog of recordings destined for special preservation and scholarship attention due to their "cultural, historic and aesthetic significance to American society and the nation's audio heritage." Known formally as the National Recording Registry, the new selections for the list were announced this week by Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden.
Heading this year’s list are “What The World Needs Now” by the iconic team of Hal David and Burt Bacharach; “Imagine” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono; “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics duo Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart; “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey; The Four Seasons’ “Sherry” by Bob Gaudio, and albums “Synchronicity” by The Police, “Déjà Vu” by Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” with tracks by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, produced by SHOF Chairman Nile Rodgers.
Eleven albums and singles featuring the work of 18 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees and honorees were included in this years’ list of 24 musical recordings. In chronological order they are:
“St. Louis Blues”—Handy’s Memphis Blues Band (1922)
Written and performed by 1970 SHOF inductee W.C. Handy, who became known as the “Father of the Blues.” It was largely Handy’s creative output that ennobled the blues to cross America’s race and cultural lines. “St. Louis Blues” was one of the first blues songs to enjoy success as a pop song.
“What the World Needs Now is Love” Jackie DeShannon (1965)
Written by the legendary songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who were SHOF inductees in 1972, and received the SHOF’s most prestigious honor, the Johnny Mercer Award, in 1996. The song went on to receive the SHOF Towering Song Award in 2004. Bacharach arranged the song, conducted the orchestra and produced the session, and it became one of Jackie DeShannon’s signature hits. Despite the songs’ bright theme, Bacharach said that he had Vietnam War in his mind during the song’s composition. David served as Chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame from 2000 to 2010. Both David and Bacharach were honored with the Library of Congress Gershwin Award in 2012.
“Wang Dang Doodle” Koko Taylor (1966)
Written and produced by 2015 SHOF inductee Willie Dixon, with vocals by Koko Taylor, the recording became an unlikely hit in the midst of the “British Invasion” and went on to become a standard of the blues repertoire. Dixon became known as the “Poet Laureate of the Blues” exerting huge influence on generations of blues writers and artists.
“Sherry” The Four Seasons (1962)
Written by 1995 SHOF inductee Bob Gaudio, founding member of The Four Seasons, the song became a crossover hit that topped the industry pop and R&B charts. Gaudio said that it took him about 15 minutes to write the song, called “Sherry” after the daughter of one of Gaudio’s close friends.
“Déjà Vu” Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970)
The album that re-defined folk-rock and brought a new musical and lyrical maturity to pop music was written by SHOF 2009 inductees David Crosby, Graham Nash and Steven Stills, 1997 SHOF Inductee Joni Mitchell along with two tracks by Canadian folkie Neil Young. “Déjà Vu” found its audience immediately, and remains the highest-selling album of each member’s career to date, with over eight million copies sold. The three singles released from it: “Woodstock,” (written by Joni Mitchell) “Teach Your Children,” and “Our House” written by (Graham Nash) were AM and FM hits at the time, and have each proved to be enduring, defining songs of early 1970s rock.
“Imagine”—John Lennon (1971)
Co-written by 1987 SHOF inductee John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono, the song became the best-selling single of Lennon’s solo-career. “Imagine” has been one of the globe’s most often covered songs, with significant versions performed by everyone from Elton John to Lady Gaga to Dolly Parton, Diana Ross and David Bowie.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads”—John Denver (1971)
Written by 1996 SHOF inductee John Denver, along with co-writers Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, the song became his breakout, career-making hit. It went on to define much of Denver’s career while also becoming a family and sing-along favorite, crossing over from country, to folk, to pop.
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”—Eurythmics (1983)
Written by 2022 SHOF inductees David Stewart and Annie Lennox, this synth-pop song with its propulsive and drum and synth line proved their breakthrough hit. Lennox wrote the lyrics on the spot during the recording session and played one synth while Stewart played another. With the addition of one more section, they had created one of the most recognizable tracks in pop.
“Synchronicity”—The Police (1983)
For their final studio album, which eventually garnered three Grammy awards, The Police gave us a distillation of their previous work that included punk, reggae, and jazz, and a sophisticated sense of melodic line. The title track and all but two others were written by 2002 SHOF inductee Sting, including megahits “Every Breath You Take” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger”. The album won three 1984 Grammy awards including Album of the Year.
“Like a Virgin”—Madonna (1984)
The title track was written by 2011 SHOF inductees Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, and the entire album was produced by 2016 SHOF inductee Nile Rodgers, who currently serves as SHOF Chairman. Of the nine songs originally included on the album, four became top 10 hits. With 21 million copies of this album sold, the influence of Madonna, along with Rodger’s inspired production, redefined dance music for more than a decade.
“All I Want for Christmas is You”—Mariah Carey (1994)
Co-written and co-produced by 2022 SHOF inductee Carey, along with Walter Afanasieff, the song has become the most performed Christmas song of all time, passing the mark set by legendary hits by Bing Crosby and Mel Tormé. The song was first released in October of 1994, but, now, almost like Christmas itself, the song comes back again and again; and for the past several years reliably rises to the number one position of the charts during the Christmas season.
SHOF President and CEO Linda Moran said: "It is especially inspiring to see our longtime Chairman Hal David, along with co-writer Burt Bacharach, honored by the Library of Congress as one of their most beloved and iconic compositions joins this elite archive of music. Likewise, we are thrilled to see works by 2022 SHOF inductees the Eurythmics and Mariah Carey honored, and the superb work of our Chairman Nile Rodgers recognized with the induction of “Like A Virgin” into the National Recording Registry. And with 18 SHOF inductees’ works being recognized this year, we are reminded once again of the long synchronicity between this elite archive and the songwriters who have been voted in to the Songwriters Hall of Fame by our membership over the years.”
Moran serves as a member of the federally-chartered National Recording Preservation Board, which assists the Librarian in selecting the recordings each year. SHOF President's Advisory Council member Robbin Ahrold has chaired the National Recording Preservation Board for the past five years. The current SHOF Chairman Nile Rodgers has been twice honored as his works We Are Family recorded by Sister Sledge, was inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2016, and Chic's inescapable disco hit Le Freak, inducted in 2017. This year he adds another laureate with Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”.
Librarian of Congress Dr. Hayden added, “The National Recording Registry preserves our history through recorded sound and reflects our nation’s diverse culture The national library is proud to help ensure these recordings are preserved for generations to come, and we welcome the public’s input on what songs, speeches, podcasts or recorded sounds we should preserve next. We received more than 1,100 public nominations this year.”
The Registry was established in 2002. The recordings selected for the newly announced “Class of 2023” bring the total number of titles on the registry to over 600, a small part of the Library's vast recorded-sound collection of nearly 3 million items. Each year, the National Recording Preservation Board recommends works to be added to the collection, and the Librarian of Congress makes a final selection of 25 works. The Board also advises on significant strategies in preservation of rare and endangered recordings, in collaboration with the nation's leading academic institutions.
You can listen to many of the recordings on your favorite streaming service. The Digital Media Association, a member of the National Recording Preservation Board, has posted a list of streaming services with National Recording Registry playlists HERE.
The full list of this year's Registry selections is available in the official Library of Congress newsroom HERE.