Late rapper Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama,” R.E.M.’s rock hit “Radio Free Europe” and veteran country star Willie Nelson’s 1975 concept album “Red Headed Stranger” are among a list of 25 recordings that will be preserved for all time, The Library of Congress announced Wednesday.
Also making the cut for this year’s list is comedian Bill Cosby’s second album, Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” “Smokestack Lightning” by Howlin’ Wolf and a 1923 recording of “Canal Street Blue” by King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.
In announcing the list, librarian James H. Billington said the selections point to “the diverse beauty, humanity and artistry found in the American soundscape.”
The Library signaled out Shakur’s 1995 track “Dear Mama,” released a year before Shakur was shot dead, as a “moving and eloquent homage to both his own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference.”
Shakur is the third hip-hop act to join the registry, following works by Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy, according to Time Magazine.
R.E.M.’s 1981 hit “Radio Free Europe” got the nod for its “raw immediacy.”
“Singer Michael Stipe’s elliptical lyrics and guitarist Peter Buck’s arpeggiated open chords would not only become signatures of the band’s future output, but they added greatly to the song’s enigmatic appeal,” the Library said.
The annual list, which now numbers 300 works, is determined by nominations from the public and from a Library of Congress board stacked with music industry leaders. The works are housed in a state-of-the-art facility in Culpeper, Virginia.
To be eligible for consideration the recordings must be at least 10 years old and deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Not happy with this year’s picks? Nominate your own for the next round of 25 here.