National Recording Registry Selects ‘Piano Man,’ ‘I Will Survive’ For Induction

Billy Joel

The National Recording Registry has selected 25 new sound recordings for induction into the Library of Congress, including Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” and two versions of Kurt Weill’s “Mack the Knife.”

Each year, the Library’s National Recording Board (NRPB) chooses 25 recordings are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and must be at least ten years old. The registry now holds 450 recordings when including the 2015 batch. The library holds over three million items. David S. Mao, acting Librarian of Congress, named the 25 new sound recordings today.

“These recordings, by a wide range of artists in many genres of music and in spoken word, will be preserved for future listeners,” Mao said. “This collection of blues, jazz, rock, country and classical recordings, interspersed with important recordings of sporting events, speeches, radio shows and comedy, helps safeguard the record of what we’ve done and who we are.”

Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris’s song, “I Will Survive,” has inspired many. For Fekaris, it was a revelation that he would survive losing a job. For Gloria Gaynor, she related to the song because she was struggling with a spinal injury. “I was actually at the mic in a back brace, believing the song would save my career—and it did.” When she learned about the song’s addition to the National Recording Registry she said, ” ‘I Will Survive’ is my mantra, the core of my God-given purpose. It is my privilege and honor to use it to inspire people around the world of every nationality, race, creed, color and age group to join me as I sing and live the words: ‘I Will Survive.’ ”

The song “Mack the Knife” comes from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera, but most Americans were unaware of the song until the 1954 off-Broadway production of the show. In that year, 17 cover versions of the song were created. However, it is Louis Armstrong’s 1956 and Bobby Darin’s 1959 versions of the song that receives today’s honor.

Billy Joel’s first hit, “Piano Man,” originally clocked in at 5:38 minutes in length. It may have not become the hit that it is if it wasn’t cut down to 3:05.

The National Recording Registry doesn’t just pick music. Among today’s 25 selections, the library also selected a couple of radio show broadcasts, the fourth-quarter radio coverage of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, and George Carlin’s “Class Clown” routine from 1972.

The complete list of 2015 inductees to the National Recording Registry includes the following.

  1. “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”—Columbia Quartette (The Peerless Quartet) (1911)
  2. “Wild Cat Blues”—Clarence Williams’ Blue Five (1923)
  3. “Statesboro Blues”—Blind Willie McTell (1928)
  4. “Bonaparte’s Retreat”—W.H. Stepp (1937)
  5. Mahler Symphony No. 9—Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Bruno Walter, conductor. (1938)
  6. “Carousel of American Music”—George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Arthur Freed, Shelton Brooks, Hoagy Carmichael, others (September 24, 1940)
  7. “Vic and Sade”—Episode: “Decoration Day.” (June 4, 1937) Radio
  8. The “Marshall Plan” Speech—George C. Marshall (June 5, 1947)
  9. “Destination Freedom”—Episodes: “A Garage in Gainesville” and “Execution Awaited” (September 25, October 2, 1949)
  10. Original soundtrack from “A Streetcar Named Desire”—Alex North, composer. (1951)
  11. “Cry Me a River”—Julie London (1955)
  12. “Mack the Knife” (singles)—Louis Armstrong (1956); Bobby Darin (1959).
  13. Fourth-quarter radio coverage of Wilt Chamberlin’s 100-point game (Philadelphia Warriors vs. New York Knicks)—Bill Campbell, announcer (March 2, 1962)
  14. “A Love Supreme”—John Coltrane (1964)
  15. “It’s My Way”—Buffy Sainte-Marie (1964) (album)
  16. “Where Did Our Love Go” (single)—The Supremes (1964)
  17. “People Get Ready” (single)—The Impressions (1965)
  18. “Mama Tried” (single)—Merle Haggard (1968)
  19. “Abraxas”—Santana (1970)
  20. “Class Clown”—George Carlin (1972)
  21. “Robert and Clara Schumann Complete Piano Trios”—The Beaux Arts Trio (1972)
  22. “Piano Man” (single)—Billy Joel (1973)
  23. “Bogalusa Boogie”—Clifton Chenier (1976)
  24. “I Will Survive”—Gloria Gaynor (1978)
  25. “Master of Puppets”—Metallica (1986)

[Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]