Sunday, February 08, 2009


Bloody Foreigners

The latest Rolling Stone has a fun piece by David Browne on a 2,200 LP album library hidden in the White House:

During the waning days of the Nixon administration, the RIAA, the record companies' trade group, decided the library should include sound recordings as well as books. In 1973, the organization donated close to 2,000 LPs. The bad news: The selection was dominated by the likes of Pat Boone, the Carpenters and John Denver. In 1979, legendary producer John Hammond convened a new commission to update the list for the hipper Carter administration. "They felt they needed to redress some of the oversights that might have taken place the first time around," says Boston music critic and author Bob Blumenthal, who was put in charge of adding 200 rock records to the library.... They picked the Kinks' Arthur for its "theme of empire," and Blumenthal snuck in favorites like David Bowie's Hunky Dory.

On January 13th, 1981, the LPs — each in a sleeve with a presidential seal — were presented to Jimmy Carter at a White House ceremony. But the collection — placed in a hallway near the third-floor listening room, complete with a sound system — didn't remain upstairs long. When Ronald Reagan took office that year, the LPs were moved to the basement.

When I talked with Browne a few days ago, he had a neat tidbit that got cut for space from the piece: one of the great committee battles was whether to include an album by Foreigner. One "sorta more mainstream" member really liked "Double Vision," David explained, but the New York music critics on the panel clutched their heads in agony.

I don't know why, but I just find this an amusing scene to imagine.

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