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Elton John and Bernie Taupin awarded Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize Print-ready version

by Judy Kurtz
The Hill
March 21, 2024

They were being honored for hits including "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," but there was just dancing - and no battling - between feuding lawmakers Wednesday as Elton John and Bernie Taupin were awarded the Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle joined fans and other music stars in feting the songwriting duo at a tribute concert at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington.

The Gershwin Prize - considered the highest award for influence, impact and achievement in popular music - recognizes living musical artists.

"When I grew up as a little boy in suburban London, the only good music that I heard was American. British music sucked," John quipped to the audience as he accepted the honor.

"I'm so proud to be British, and to be here in America to receive this award because all my heroes were American," the 76-year-old "Crocodile Rock" singer said to applause.

"It's a wonderful city. A wonderful country. It's been responsible for everything that I love in my musical life," John said of the nation's capital and the U.S., before playing his first 1970 hit, "Your Song," for the crowd.

"Everything I've written emanates from the American songbook," said Taupin, who's penned the lyrics to more than 35 gold and 25 platinum albums with John.

"But he drives a Volvo," John cracked of his longtime collaborator's penchant for the Swedish-made cars.

John and 73-year-old Taupin, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told ITK on the red carpet ahead of the event, "epitomize what the prize is about."

Asked if the songwriting team could teach a fractured Congress about unity - Taupin has said that "nobody's more opposite" than the duo - Hayden replied, "it's going to be bipartisan karaoke, and we have both sides coming together because it shows the unifying effect of music."

"You have people from all parts of government that are here, and they're going to be singing together, 'Bennie and the Jets,'" Hayden said, noting that it was her favorite John tune.

A slew of entertainers took to the stage to salute the pair and belt out their songs, including: Garth Brooks, Brandi Carlile, Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Maren Morris, Metallica, Charlie Puth, Billy Porter - who served as the night's emcee - and Jacob Lusk.

Among the lawmakers seen moving to the music: Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) - who was clapping along as Metallica played John's 1973 medley, "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," Steve Scalise (R-La.), Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), and Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.).

"Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song" is poised to air April 8 at 8 p.m. on PBS stations nationwide.

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Added to Library on March 21, 2024. (475)

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