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McCartney Rocks Obama at the White House

Page 2 of 2

Elvis Costello's rendition of "Penny Lane" carried some personal meaning for the English singer: "Music is often an us-against-them proposition," Costello said. "The next song you're going to hear is named after a place from which my mother comes from — about half a mile away. So you can imagine when this thing of wonder and beauty came on the radio, myself as a young man, my dad, my mam, and the cat, all stood up and took notice. And I think it's a beautiful way that Paul's songs unite us."

Dave Grohl amped things up a bit with a kinetic and raucous version of Wings' "Band on the Run." For Grohl, a D.C. native, performing at the White House was something of a homecoming. "I have probably played every club and every basement and every arena and every stadium," said Grohl, who drummed in local hardcore band Scream before joining Nirvana. But none of those venues compared to playing the White House. "Paul, you're definitely my hero. Mr. President, you're my other hero." Another highlight of the night included Wonder, a previous recipient of the Gershwin award, joining McCartney for a duet on "Ebony and Ivory." The rendition was enough to get a marine, stationed just outside the East Room, to stand up and gently shimmy.

Jerry Seinfeld brought laughs to the event with a short routine, in which, tongue firmly in cheek, he questioned some of McCartney's lyrical intentions. "Take 'When I Saw Her Standing There,' " Seinfeld said, quoting the famous line: " 'She was just 17/You know what I mean.' I’m not sure I do know what you mean, Sir Paul," Seinfeld said. "I think I know what you mean and I think there's a law enforcement agency in a couple of states in this country that might like you to come downtown and answer a few questions about what you mean."

But the recent news of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico weighed heavily on Obama's mind. "Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with friends in the part of the country that is so rich in musical heritage — the Gulf Coast — who are dealing with something simply not seen before," Obama said. "Part of what gets us through tough times is music, the arts. They help us capture that essential kernel of ourself, that part of us that sings even when times are hard."

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."

Set list:

Paul McCartney - "Got to Get You Into My life"
Stevie Wonder - "WeCan Work It Out"
Jonas Brothers - "Drive My Car"
Emmylou Harris - "To No One"
Jack White - "Mother Nature's Son"
Corinne Bailey Rae and Herbie Hancock - "Blackbird"
Faith Hill - "The Long and Winding Road"
Elvis Costello - "Penny Lane"
Dave Grohl - "Band on the Run"
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder - "Ebony and Ivory"
Paul McCartney - "Michelle"
Paul McCartney - "Eleanor Rigby"
Paul McCartney - "Let It Be"
Paul McCartney - "Hey Jude&quo

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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