John Lennon. Credit: Capitol/UMG
Monmouth University Professor of English and Popular Music Kenneth Womack, a Beatles author and historian, was personally invited by the United States Library of Congress to provide the essay for one of 2023’s new items in the National Recording Registry, John Lennon’s recording of “Imagine.” Though the Beatles’ landmark 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was inducted in 2003, “Imagine” is the first recording by a former Beatle to be honored.
The Library of Congress, the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office, is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, films and videos, audio recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. On the Library’s official website, 14th Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden writes: “The Library preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage you in your intellectual and creative endeavors.”
The National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB) and members of the public have been nominating recordings to the National Recording Registry (NRR) each year since 2002. Their website states that “the depth and breadth 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.” With the addition of Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine” this year, the NRR turned to Womack for an accompanying essay, which can be read here.
“It was a genuine honor to have been asked by the Library of Congress’s National Recording Preservation team to contribute an essay about such a world-eclipsing song,” he says. “John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s work on ‘Imagine’ will stand the test of time and inspire future generations about the promises and possibilities of a lasting peace."
Kenneth Womack, PhD, is the author or editor of more than 40 books, including a multivolume study devoted to the life and work of Beatles producer George Martin, and the bestselling books Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles and John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life. He is the Music Culture columnist for Salon and host of the web magazine’s “Everything Fab Four” podcast. His latest project is the authorized biography and archive of Beatles road manager Mal Evans, due out in November 2023.
For more information on the Library of Congress and National Recording Registry, please click here.