Since 2002, the institution has selected recordings — dating back over a century — that they deem worthy of special recognition and preservation. These recordings, according to the LOC website, showcase "the range and diversity of American recorded sound heritage in order to increase preservation awareness. The diversity of nominations received highlights the richness of the nation's audio legacy and underscores the importance of assuring the long-term preservation of that legacy for future generations."
While fifty per year were originally selected, that number dropped to 25 in 2006. Each year's announcement indicates titles nominated in the previous year, making the recorded works announced today the selections for 2018. Selections may be entire LPs, archival field recordings, or singles
Memphis native Maurice White co-wrote one of the newly recognized songs, the smash single "September," released by his band Earth, Wind & Fire in November of 1978. Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," recorded at Memphis' American Sound Studio in 1969, also was given a nod, as was "Memphis Blues" by W.C. Handy, as recorded by the Victor Military Band.
Recordings with Memphis connections added to the registry in past years have included:
- Louis Armstrong's Hot Five Sessions (including Memphis native Lil' Hardin Armstrong).
- Elvis Presley's Sun Recording Sessions
- Aretha Franklin's "Respect"
- Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)"
- Jerry Lee Lewis's "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' on"
- B. B. King's Live at the Regal
- Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightnin'"
- Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes"
- Booker T & the MGs' "Green Onions"
- Love's Forever Changes (led by Memphis native Arthur Lee)
- Isaac Hayes' Shaft
- Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" (recorded at Stax, co-written by Steve Cropper).
- Al Green's "Let's Stay Together"