This Day in 1981: The White House Record Library Rocks

Thursday, January 12, 2017
This Day in 1981: The White House Record Library Rocks

On this day in 1981, the White House issued a memo about an upcoming reception which – in longstanding political tradition – completely buried its most important fact.

The announcement in question was that they would be holding a reception the following day for the Commission for the White House Record Library, and if you didn’t realize that there even was such a thing, the memo has prepared for that contingency. It goes on to explain that “the White House Record Library is a collection of music, drama, poetry, and prose reflective of our nation’s cultural interests,” one which “was established in 1973 and is administered by a volunteer commission whose members are appointed by the First Lady.”

The big revelation, however, is that Stan Gortikov, president of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), was to be in attendance to present Mrs. Carter – for it was she who was still the First Lady on that date – with a catalogue listening both the existing records and the 800 new recordings that had been added to the catalogue over the course of Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

In case you’re wondering, yes, the White House Record Library is still a thing…or at least it was when Barack Obama took over the Oval Office in 2009.

As Rolling Stone cheerily reported at the time, “Stored in the basement of the executive mansion is the official White House Record Library: several hundred LPs that include landmark albums in rock (LED ZEPPELIN IV, the Rolling Stones' LET IT BLEED), punk (the Ramones' ROCKET TO RUSSIA, the Sex Pistols' NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, HERE’S THE SEX PISTOLS), cult classics (Captain Beefheart's TROUT MASK REPLICA, the Flying Burrito Brothers' THE GILDED PALACE OF SIN) and disco. Not to mention records by Santana, Neil Young, Talking Heads, Isaac Hayes, Elton John, the Cars and Barry Manilow.”

Other albums cited as being part of the collection:
Randy Newman, GOOD OLD BOYS The Kinks, ARTHUR David Bowie, HUNKY DORY Bob Dylan, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS Bruce Springsteen, BORN TO RUN

What, pray tell, can we expect to find in the collection after the Trump presidency? We won’t even begin to hazard a guess, but if you’ve got thoughts on the matter, we’d love to hear your comments.