‘Let’s get some music’: Elton John plays the White House

WASHINGTON – “God bless you, let’s have some music,” said Elton John.

With that, the White House South Lawn turned into a concert Friday night as John performed a farewell party honoring everyday “heroes” such as teachers, nurses and AIDS activists. But as it turns out, the event was also a tribute to the 75-year-old British songwriter – President Joe Biden surprised him with the National Humanities Medal for being a “tidal wave” that helped people rise up for justice.

John seemed to be nearly overtaken by accolades, telling an audience of 2,000 people, “I don’t know what to say. … I don’t know how to receive praise well but it’s great to be here among so many people who have helped my foundation to fight AIDS and my heroes, those who work Day in and day out on the front lines.”

He said he’s played some pretty places before, but the stage in front of the White House, under a huge outdoor tent on a perfect autumn night, “maybe the icing on the cake.”

The show began with “Your Song”, his first major international hit.

The intimate guest list included teachers, nurses, front-line workers and LGBT advocates, as well as former first lady Laura Bush, civil rights advocate Robbie Bridges, education activist Malala Yousafzai, AIDS activist Jane White Jinder and the mother of Ryan White, who died because of her. AIDS-related complications in the 1990s.

Biden and First Lady Jill Biden spoke about the British singer’s activism, the power of his music, and his overall benevolence. The event was dreamed up and paid for by A+E and the History Channel.

“Seamus Heaney once wrote, and I quote, ‘Once in a lifetime, a tidal wave of justice can rise, a meditation and the rhyme of history,’” Biden said. “Throughout his incredible career, Sir Elton John has been that tidal wave, a tidal wave to help People get up and make hope the rhyme of history.”

In fact, the night was called “The Night of Hope and the Rhyme of History,” in reference to a Biden poem quoted by Heaney of Ireland.

Sir Elton – who was knighted in 1998 by Queen Elizabeth II – has sold more than 300 million records worldwide, played over 4,000 shows in 80 countries and recorded one of the best-selling singles of all time, a reworking of The movie “Candle in the Wind” in 1997 to memorialize Princess Diana, which sold 33 million copies.

John’s hits Friday were peppered with emotional tales from his history, including Laura Bush’s shout-out to former President George W. In the first place, it helped him become sober.

“I will not speak here tonight,” he said. “They saved my life.”

He then dedicated “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” to Ryan.

Despite a large number of lawmakers, political talk was kept to a minimum, except when John said, “I wish America was more partisan in every way.”

This was his first White House concert since he performed with Stevie Wonder at a state dinner in 1998 in honor of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. John is on a farewell tour that began in July after performing for over 50 years.

The show came together after A+E Networks and History Channel asked the White House and John if they were willing to honor “history makers every day” as well as John himself.

It is not clear if the show will be broadcast. John has worked with A+E in the past on his global HIV/AIDS charity, the Elton John Foundation, which has raised more than $525 million to fight the virus worldwide.

John is walking around to play a show running out in Nationals Park on Saturday.

The president and first lady are big fans. Biden wrote in his 2017 memoir of singing “Crocodile Rock” to his two boys as he drove them to school, and again later to his son Beau before he died of cancer at the age of 46.

“She started softly singing Beau’s lyrics, so we could just hear her,” Biden wrote. “Boo didn’t open his eyes, but I could see through my tears that he was smiling.”

John played the song on Friday, saying someone told him Biden was singing it to his young children. “I can’t imagine him singing it,” said John sarcastically before suggesting to the president to come up on stage. he did not do. But the whole crowd did “La-La-Las” from their seats.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was a fan of John as well. He tried to get John to perform at his 2017 inauguration, but John refused, saying he didn’t think it was appropriate for a Briton to play in the swearing-in of an American president.

The White House insisted that Friday’s show was not an attempt to lure Trump, who has praised John in his books and often featured John’s music — including “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer” — in his pre-gather playlists over the years. Trump has dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man” for his record of missile tests.

John both played on Friday, to thunderous applause.

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