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Poignant Moments, Pop Hits Preserved by Library of Congress

The 2023 class of inductees to the National Recording Registry includes few strangers to radio

Dorothy Thompson testifying before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in 1939. Her NBC Radio broadcasts from the start of World War II in Europe were inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Harris & Ewing photograph collection, LC-H22-D- 6427)

Every year, the Library of Congress designates audio recordings as national treasures. Among the 2023 additions to the National Recording Registry are a number chart-topping singles along with a poignant radio series from the outbreak of World War II.

In August 1939, as Stalin and Hitler were establishing a non-aggression pact, Dorothy Thompson offered a daily series of broadcasts on NBC Radio analyzing what she referred to as “the European situation.” Thompson spent most of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe and has the distinction of, in August 1934, being the first American journalist expelled from Nazi Germany.

Thompson’s 15 nights of consecutive broadcasts on NBC Radio, from August 23 to September 6, 1939, documented the non-aggression pact and subsequent German invasion of Poland and declaration of war against Germany by the United Kingdom and France.

In adding Thompson’s reports to the Recording Registry, the Library of Congress stated “These broadcasts form a unique broadcast record of this complex period.”

Many of the other 2023 inductees are also no strangers to radio. Madonna’s Like a Virgin album yielded four top-ten radio hits, and even today few Christmas music playlists would be complete without Mariah Carey’s 1994 release “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” (2004), was the first crossover reggaeton hit, influencing playlists on Spanish- and English-language radio.

Classic rock radio inductees include Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” (1971) and John Lennon’s “Imagine” (1971), along with Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” (1977), the epitome of yacht rock. Other radio staples inducted in 2023 include “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (1971) by John Dener, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (1983) by the Eurythmics, and Irene Cara’s “Flashdance … What a Feeling” (1983).

Three other notable albums were inducted: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Déjà Vu (1970) with the folk rock radio hits “Teach Your Children,” “Woodstock,” and “Our House;” The Police’s Synchronicity (1983), which included the top song of 1983, “Every Breath You Take;” and Queen Latifa’s All Hail the Queen (1989), which included the radio-friendly “Ladies First.”

The full list of 2023 National Recording Registry inductees, in chronological order, is:

  • The Very First Mariachi Recordings — Cuarteto Coculense (1908–1909)
  • “St. Louis Blues” — Handy’s Memphis Blues Band (1922)
  • “Sugar Foot Stomp” — Fletcher Henderson (1926)
  • Dorothy Thompson: Commentary and Analysis of the European Situation for NBC Radio (Aug. 23–Sept. 6, 1939)
  • “Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around” — The Fairfield Four (1947)
  • “Sherry” — The Four Seasons (1962)
  • “What the World Needs Now is Love” — Jackie DeShannon (1965)
  • “Wang Dang Doodle” — Koko Taylor (1966)
  • “Ode to Billie Joe” — Bobbie Gentry (1967)
  • Déjà Vu — Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970)
  • “Imagine” — John Lennon (1971)
  • “Stairway to Heaven” — Led Zeppelin (1971)
  • “Take Me Home, Country Roads” — John Denver (1971)
  • “Margaritaville” — Jimmy Buffett (1977)
  • “Flashdance … What a Feeling” — Irene Cara (1983)
  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — Eurythmics (1983)
  • Synchronicity — The Police (1983)
  • Like a Virgin — Madonna (1984)
  • Black Codes (From the Underground) — Wynton Marsalis (1985)
  • Super Mario Bros. theme — Koji Kondo, composer (1985)
  • All Hail the Queen — Queen Latifah (1989)
  • “All I Want for Christmas is You” — Mariah Carey (1994)
  • Pale Blue Dot — Carl Sagan (1994)
  • “Gasolina” — Daddy Yankee (2004)
  • Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra — Northwest Chamber Orchestra, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, composer (2012)

[Read about prior National Recording Registry inductees]