The Library of Congress has a new online “jukebox” with more than 10,000 historic recordings made before 1925. “Much of it hasn’t been widely available since World War I,” notes the Washington Post. “Call it America’s iTunes.” The Library hopes to keep adding more recordings that are in the public domain. Harry Connick, Jr. was there to celebrate the opening of the online archive by playing “I’m Just Wild About Harry” on the piano. The Paul Whiteman version of the song is in the jukebox, and so is one from the song’s composer, Eubie Blake. According to Justin Jouvenal of the Washington Post:
The collection, which is drawn from Sony’s back catalog, is a bewildering assortment of stuff. Listeners can hear the first ever jazz release — “Livery Stable Blues” by the Original Dixieland Jass Band — to 32 recordings of yodeling. There is a reading of the classic “Casey at Bat” and a forgotten speech by President William Howard Taft on U.S. policy toward Puerto Rico. Most of all, there is loads and loads of music: famed opera singer Enrico Caruso and composers Irving Berlin and George Gershwin are all represented.
“The absence of these recordings have created a sort of cultural amnesia. I think the jukebox will lead to a rediscovery of these artists,” said Patrick Loughney, who oversees the Library’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center campus in Culpeper.
The jukebox allows listeners to create playlists of their favorite tracks and share them via Facebook or other sites. The Library is creating a series of playlists curated by historians and well-known artists.
You can browse or search by type (vocal, spoken, instrumental), performer, composer, lyricist, date, or title. There is something there for everyone — be sure to check it out.