John Williams’s Star Wars Score

Named To National Recording Registry

By Rich Drees

     John Williams’s 1977 score for the first Star Wars film (1977) has been selected as one of 50 recordings named to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry it was announced Tuesday April 5, 2005. It is the first film score to be named to the Board’s Registry.

     Nominations for recordings to be named to the Registry are submitted by the public and then reviewed by the National Recording Preservation Board. The final 50 recordings are then selected by the Librarian of Congress. Selections for the Registry are reviewed on the recording’s cultural, historical or aesthetic importance. Recordings are eligible for inclusion on the registry no less than 10 years after their creation.

     According to the Preservation Board’s website, Williams’s score was selected for inclusion because “this soundtrack score has been credited with reviving symphonic film scores in Hollywood motion pictures. The recording was a best-seller, its themes well remembered and often quoted. When the blockbuster motion picture was released in 1977, home video did not exist. It was the soundtrack recording which enabled audiences to evoke images from the film in their living rooms.”

     The original release of the soundtrack album was certified Gold (500,000 units sold) by the Recording Industry Association of America on July 18, 1977 and was certified Platinum (over 1 million units sold) a month later on August 17. Williams won several awards including a Grammy, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for the score.

     The National Recording Preservation Board was created as part of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000. It is an advisory board comprised of representatives from various professional organizations and several “at-large” members. The Board’s primary mission is to advise the Librarian of Congress on recordings to be named to the National Registry and to help develop a strategy for the ongoing preservation of historically important recordings. More information on the Preservation Board can be found at their website.

     Other recordings named to the Registry this year include original recordings of jazz and swing standards such as Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” Ethel Waters singing “Stormy Weather” and the Glen Miller Orchestra’s “In The Mood,” albums such as Live At The Apollo by James Brown, Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, and Nevermind by Nirvana and radio broadcasts such as Woodrow Wilson’s 1923 Armistice Day broadcast and the 1948 episode of The Jack Benny Program containing the famous “Your money or your life” sketch.

     This year’s entire list of recordings named to the registry can be viewed here.