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From the White House, June 3rd 2010:
Last night, President Obama presented America’s highest award for popular music − the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song − to Sir Paul McCartney in the East Room of the White House. […]
Artists from all genres and backgrounds joined the President and First Lady to honor Paul McCartney, including Stevie Wonder, the Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Lang Lang, Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello, Jack White, Corinne Bailey Rae, David Grohl, and Jerry Seinfeld. As they gathered to present the annual award for extraordinary contributions to American music and culture, in his remarks, the President took a moment to address the challenges Americans face and the value of music in tough times:
We’ve gone through a difficult year and a half, and right now our thoughts and our prayers are with friends in another part of the country that is so rich in musical heritage — the people of the Gulf Coast who are dealing with something that we simply had not seen before. And it’s heartbreaking. And we reaffirm, I think together, our commitment to see to it that their lives and their communities are made whole again.
But part of what gets us through tough times is music, the arts, the ability to capture that essential kernel of ourselves, that part of us that sings even when times are hard. And it’s fitting that the Library has chosen to present this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to a man whose father played Gershwin compositions for him on the piano; a man who grew up to become the most successful songwriter in history -– Sir Paul McCartney.
[…] The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.
Of course I played [Ebony And Ivory] with Stevie, when we got asked to play at the White House, because this idea of blacks and whites living in harmony had resonated with me. We now had an African-American president, for the first time ever.Paul McCartney, from Tug Of War Archive Collection, 2015
From RollingStone, June 3rd 2010:
[…] there were somber moments, too, including remarks from Obama about the BP oil disaster, and some overtly political comments from McCartney, who praised Obama and took some digs at George W. Bush. “Getting this prize would just be good enough, but getting it from this president …,” McCartney said. Later, he noted, “After the last eight years, it’s great to have a president who knows what a library is.” But the evening, after all, was about McCartney, and Obama praised the timelessness and the universal appeal of McCartney’s music — and also geeked out with some Beatles statistics: 200 of McCartney’s songs have charted, Obama said, and they’ve stayed there for “a cumulative total of 32 years. […]
[…] As the evening wound down, McCartney paid sly tribute to the first lady with an accordion-backed “Michelle” and ended the concert with three of his most enduring songs: “Eleanor Rigby,” “Let It Be,” and “Hey Jude.” For “Jude,” he invited his fellow performers and the first family onstage to help lead the room along in its famous na-na-na coda. “I don’t think there could be anything more special than playing here,” McCartney said. “We’re thinking of making it a regular thing.“
From paulmccartney.com, June 3, 2010:
Paul was in Washington on last night to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from President Obama. Paul is the third ever winner of the Gershwin prize, the most prestigious American award for popular music. After collecting the award Paul performed at a star-studded concert inside the White House, playing songs such as ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Let it Be’ and in tribute to the US First Lady, ‘Michelle’. Stevie Wonder joined him on stage to perform a duet of ‘Ebony and Ivory’ before Paul ended the concert with a show stopping performance of ‘Hey Jude’. Also performing were Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Jack White, Dave Grohl, Lang Lang, Jonas Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Corinne Bailey Rae and Elvis Costello.
From Whom The Bell Tells, July 14, 2010:
June kicked off with a visit to a place that doesn’t ordinarily feature on the average tour schedule. Unless you’ve been living on the moon with your fingers in your ears for the last four weeks, you may have heard that Paul found time at the start of the month to drop into the White House. Yes, that’s THE White House, where he was honoured by the President of the United States. Yes, that’s THE President, Barack Obama. Turns out he’s quite a fan of Pauls too! While there, Paul became the first Englishman ever to be awarded the Gershwin Prize For Popular Music, Americas most prestigious music prize. Turns out that President Obama throws the best parties too, with some of the biggest names in music turning out to pay tribute to Paul while performances came from Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello, Herbie Hancock. Jack White, Faith Hill and the Jonas Brothers. President Obama addressed the assembled VIP guests and dignitaries in the East room, telling them that Paul’s gifts have touched billions of lives and thanking the Englishman who shared his dreams with us.
How did Paul celebrate this amazing award? He did what he does best and rocked the White House in true Macca style, naturally. As one US paper reported, If the first British invasion of the White House ended with the house afire, the latest had Barack and Michelle Obama and their kids rocking out. Highlights included Paul teaming up with Stevie Wonder for a rendition of their hit single, Ebony and Ivory, a stirring performance of Hey Jude that had the President singing along on stage and serenading Americas First Lady with his classic Michelle. Paul even admitted hed been itching to perform the track at the White House, though he wisely asked Obama’s forgiveness in advance and admitted he might just become the first guy ever to be punched out by a president! Luckily, no punches were thrown and the UK’s Daily Express later wrote, There are few men who can steal a loving glance from Michelle Obama but the First Lady looked enamoured when Sir Paul serenaded her at the White House.
Even Paul a man who has surely seen and done it all – seemed blown away by the occasion, telling the audience, I don’t think there could be anything more special than to play here. He even cheekily offered to make it a residency, promising we’re cheap. Lunchtimes we could come round. He later told us it had been a career-high, which is seriously saying something when you consider Pauls spectacular career and all his achievements.Stuart Bell
From Whom The Bell Tells, August 3, 2010:
the statistics for the news coverage of the White House show first time around reached us this month and absolutely blew us all away. When you work for Macca, you almost get used to the sheer staggering scale of most facts and figures, we’ve had blackberry’s break under the sheer strain of Macca Google News Alerts in the past. But this was something else. Seems like the combination of the biggest rock star on the planet with the most powerful man on earth proved particularly irresistible. On the 3rd June alone, over 1400 news articles were produced about the event with an estimated 30 million readers in the US alone! And yes, you did read that right. CNN and all local news affiliates reported on the night with all major breakfast shows following up and full news packages running online at ABC News, PBS News Hour, NBC News and Voice Of America. All the major news outlets featured video footage on their websites, as did other major websites including Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and E! News, who featured it both online and on TV as well as on their news bulletins throughout the following day for international broadcast. Phew.
And that wasn’t all. Quotes from Paul on the day also featured on ABC News and were picked up by the likes of MNBC, Chicago Sun-Times, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Detroit Free Press, The Sacramento Bee, Examiner and the Washington Post’s Express. But the news wasn’t just confined to the US. Globally Paul and the President appeared on countless covers of national newspapers and dominated the evening TV news. News stories featuring quotes from Paul’s press conference also ran on all major news outlet websites with the most popular quotes being those where Paul talked about chatting to the President about being a dad and serenading the First Lady. The backstage video made by The Jonas Brothers about their Paul experience was also a sensational online smash hit, featuring on countless websites and championed by uber blogger Perez Hilton. Seems like every news outlet and social networking site on the planet whatever their usual focus, target audience or style wanted to know more about this incredible gig.
Paul himself, of course, took the whole thing in his stride (although we know he was impressed), commenting afterwards that, It was such a nice, friendly atmosphere. It was almost like a little family gathering. So I felt free to say anything I wanted to, just like he was a cousin, like a family wedding or something, just goofy stuff. We found his whole family very relaxing to be with, and I think he found us, hopefully, the same way. Paul was certainly impressed by the President too, albeit not in the way you might imagine, telling us At the very end, President Obama leaves the stage and he shook hands with my longtime associate, my guitar roadie John Hammel. John was quite taken aback. The president said, “That was fun, wasn’t it? Thank you.” But then the thing that I thought was amazing was he then reached over to our keyboard technician who was a little out of the way, and he didn’t need to do that. He reached over to this guy D.J. who is a big admirer of Obama’s and he took his hand and he said, “Thank you, thank you.” I was blown away. For me, the fact that he reached out to my crew was very heartwarming. It takes a great man to do that. In this business, some people are just jerks.Stuart Bell
Last updated on December 14, 2020
This was the 1st and only concert played at White House.
Setlist for the concert