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!
I've always rather liked Dave Grohl - he's talented and funny too. And I think he looks pretty hot there. Long haired cute guy all dressed up? Just put some glasses on him and I'm his.
And Elvis Costello - be still my heart.
Yeah. He seems really down to earth too. Since writing this post, I've watched several interviews with him and it's interesting to see his development from a boy in a famous band to a young man figuring out what makes him happy to a mature man at ease with his approach to life. That kind of centered independence (with a dash of non-conformism) really appeals to me.
Here are a couple of the interviews:
On Enough Rope (2005, link is to the first of three pieces, but watch all three)
Time Magazine Interviews (2009)
Besides the amazing music, I was fascinated by the interaction between the performers and the front row occupants.
I loved it when Paul McCartney was telling the President he just had to sing Michelle to the First Lady. When he was done he said he was afraid he'd be the first musician to be decked by the President. The President gave him a nod of approval.
And that "look" the daughters gave their parents when they realized said parents were dancing in their seats...Thank you to the film editor that left that in - not even the rank of President and 1st Lady render them immune to the "Ugh, you've embarrassed me yet again" look from their kids!
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