San Francisco Is a Hit in the Library of Congress

Do you know a guy named James Billington? If you love our 1960s music, perhaps you should get acquainted with him. Mr. Billington is the official Librarian of Congress for the National Recording Registry of the United States Library of Congress. And in his official capacity, he is the sole person who makes the final decision about what music and movies our government will preserve. According to “News from the Library of Congress,” ( ), 25 new listings were just added to the registry. Here are three selections from the 1960s:

“The Twist”: January 27, 1962, Chubby Checker performed at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and an estimated 15,000 attended the show. Here is a montage of 1960s images with a recording of the 1960 hit song, “The Twist,” by Chubby Checker.

“Sounds of Silence” album: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel performed at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium in the City on April 26, 1969. Here they are singing their 1966 single hit song, (changed to “Sound…” for the “Sounds…” album) “Sound of Silence”

“Cheap Thrills” album: The Big Brother and the Holding Company band was formed in San Francisco in 1965. Janis Joplin joined them in 1966. The registry has chosen the “Cheap Thrills” album as an iconic example of our home grown “psychedelic sound.” Here is Janis Joplin singing “Piece of My Heart” from the album.

In 2000, the Library of Congress was given the task of preserving chosen recordings. The news release says, “Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with annually selecting 25 recordings that are ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’ and are at least 10 years old. The selections for the 2012 registry bring the total number of recordings to 375.” According to the news release, you can weigh in with your suggestions. “Nominations were gathered through online submissions from the public and from the NRPB, which comprises leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation. The Library is currently accepting nominations for the next registry at the NRPB website ( Several of the selections on the registry were public nominations.

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