July 28, 2010
Obama and McCartney - At the White House
There is so much that was special about seeing Sir Paul McCartney perform at the White House. First, there is the award: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The honor was bestowed upon him directly by a president he so admires. Then there were the All Star list of celebs performing McCartney's songs: Stevie Wonder (We Can Work it Out and later Ebony and Ivory with Paul), Elvis Costello (Penny Lane), Jonas Brothers (Drive My Car), Herbie Hancock with Corinne Bailey Rae (Blackbird), Dave Grohl (a blistering version of Band on the Run), Faith Hill (The Long and Winding Road), Emmylou Harris (an emotional For No One), Lang Lang (classical piano) and Jack White (medley of Mother Nature's Son and That Would Be Something). Jerry Seinfeld was hilarious in his mock mini-roast of Paul about his lyrics and song titles and lyrics. ("Well, she was just seventeen/You know what I mean....Do we really know what you mean, Paul? We have a pretty good idea but....")
Sir Paul opened with Got to Get You Into My Life and later played Let it Be and Eleanor Rigby. He apologized to the President before playing Michelle with more than a nod to The First Lady -- what's her name? Afterwords he said, "I could be the first guy to be punched out by a president". The show closed with Hey Jude, ending in audience participation with all performers and the Obama family on stage doing the "na, na, na, na-na-na-nas". But what was really special was seeing senators and congresspeople singing along to every song. Rocking the suits, man! Yeah -- and a major from the Marine Bugle Corp playing a note-perfect piccolo trumpet (?) during Penny Lane. And Mary McCartney whistling a cat call at her 68-year old dad. Gotta love it! And the earlier black and white recital of Paul playing Yesterday on acoustic guitar accompanied by 3 violins and a cello.
Did I mention that President Obama called Sir Paul McCartney the "most successful songwriter in history"? As for American culture, "we stole you, Paul". Music is one of the things that helps us through hard times. He said The Beatles "blew the walls down" and changed everything about music in a few short years.
When Paul accepted the award, he said not only was the award a big honor, but it was even more so being presented to him by "this president". Regarding the Gulf oil spill and other problems, Paul said there were a "billion" people rooting for The Prez. And there are probably that many of us rooting for you, too, Paul!
Great show! Watch it now on pbs.org.