As a run-up to receiving the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize for Popular Song later today, Paul McCartney warmed up with an intimate performance of Beatles classics ("Yesterday," "Blackbird") last night at the Library's Coolidge Auditorium. The former Beatle was joined by guests including Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Jack White, and Dave Grohl along with Jerry Seinfeld (who will serve as MC at today's event), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress, the Washington Post reports. McCartney seemed jovial throughout the event, telling the crowd, "I like informal gatherings like this."
Late yesterday afternoon, McCartney told the press he was touched by the award. "It's fantastic for me to be here," he said, "because as a kid, I grew up listening to the music of the Gershwin brothers and loved it and had no idea of course that one day I might be in such a place getting an honor such as this." McCartney also showed his support for President Obama, saying at one point, "I must say I'm a big fan, he's a great guy. So lay off him. He's doing great."
The assembled press, who did not shy away from asking McCartney for an occasional autograph, also took the opportunity to pose more difficult questions to Macca, even asking the rock icon to offer his thoughts on the BP disaster. But McCartney, ever the British gentleman, was careful not to say anything too controversial. "I'm not a politician, I wouldn't know," he said of the spill. "I think it's terrible but it's too big a question for me to answer."
Rolling Stone will be on-hand for today's event at the White House — check back tomorrow for complete coverage.
Reporting by Jonathan L. Fischer.