I was fortunate enough to find out before it aired that PBS was airing "Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song." So, I set the DVR (no cable necessary -- this is PBS!) and recorded it. I didn't get a chance to see it until this weekend, and now I've watched it about three times. It's fabulous.
The musicians who played in Paul's honor were incredibly diverse and included: McCartney himself and Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, teen heartthrobs Jonas Brothers, jazz great Herbie Hancock with Corinne Bailey Rae, rock star Dave Grohl, country star Faith Hill, the not-as-lovely-as-Hot-Chick-Janiece-but-still-talented Emmylou Harris, classical pianist Lang Lang and the truly alternative Jack White, with remarks by Jerry Seinfeld. The least interesting part was Jerry Seinfeld, partly because half his jokes were about how horrible marriage is (which always bothers me), and the most interesting were the performances by Jack White and Dave Grohl -- neither of which I had really heard before. Jack White played a fascinatingly delicate version of Mother Nature's Son. Faith Hill, who followed him with a rendition of Long and Winding Road, sounded almost disappointingly conventional, until I played the mental game of pretending I was hearing them in a different order. Dave Grohl played Band on the Run with such great passion and skill (I liked this version better than the original) I had to Google him to find out why I hadn't heard of him before. Turns out it's partly because I'm always at least ten years behind the curve and partly because he's the type of fellow who plays in and leads strong ensemble bands not named after himself (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures). Also, though I'm not usually a big fan of long hair on men, it really works for him. Really does. :D
To be clear, ALL the performers were excellent, including the great Sir Paul himself. Lovely lyrics, lovely performances, and it reminded me that I really need to pony up the cash to buy the Beatles compilation. I highly recommend watching the show. It can be found online at PBS. It's really fun when watching a show about music you love can broaden your horizons to music you may also love one you're exposed to it.
Edited to add:
Turns out Foo Fighters did a great cover of Band on the Run with a more hard rock edge to it. That is now my favorite rendition of the song. Hard rock guitar and drums... yum!