WASHINGTON (AP) — Elton John said, “God bless you, let’s listen to some music.”
However, on Friday night, the White House South Lawn turned into a musical festival of love, when John performed a farewell concert to honor everyday “heroes” such as teachers, nurses, and AIDS activists. But as it turned out, the event was also to honor the 75-year-old British songwriter – President Joe Biden surprised him with the National Humanities Medal for being a “tidal wave” that helps people stand up for justice.
“I don’t know what to say,” John told the 2,000-strong audience. … I don’t know how to take a compliment, but it’s great to be here among all the people who help my AIDS foundation and my frontline heroes every day.”
He said he had played at some fine venues before, but on a perfect fall night, the scene in front of the White House under a giant open-air tent was “probably the icing on the cake.”
He kicked off the show with his first major international hit, “Your Song.”
The candid guest list included teachers, nurses, frontline workers and LGBTQ advocates, as well as former First Lady Laura Bush, civil rights activist Ruby Bridges, education activist Malala Yousafzai, and AIDS activist and Ryan White’s mother, Jeanne White-Ginder. AIDS-related complications in 1990.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden talked about the British singer’s activism, the power of her music and all-around goodness. The event was imagined and paid for by A+E and the History Channel.
“Seamus Heaney once wrote, and I quote, ‘Once in a lifetime, the tide of justice longed for can rise and hope and history rhyme,'” Biden said. “Throughout his incredible career, Sir Elton John that tidal wave has been a tidal wave that has helped people stand up, hope and history rhyme.”
In fact, the night was called “A Night that Rhymes with Hope and History,” in reference to the Biden poem quoted by the Irishman Heaney.
Sir Elton – Queen Elizabeth II in 1998. He was knighted by Elizabeth – sold over 300 million records worldwide, performed more than 4,000 concerts in 80 countries, and recorded one of the best-selling singles of all time in 1997 with his rework of Candle In The Wind. To praise Princess Diana, who sold 33 million copies.
John features Friday’s hit episodes, including a shout-out to Laura Bush and former president George W. Bush for his administration’s contingency plan to get rid of AIDS, and a story about a dying Ryan White and how his mother pushed him into advocacy. It ended with the emotional news of its history. in the first place and it helped her to be sober.
“I wouldn’t be talking here tonight,” he said. “They saved my life.”
He later dedicated “Don’t Let The Sun Set On Me” to Ryan.
Despite the presence of a large number of lawmakers, political speech was kept to a minimum, except that John said, “I wish America was more bilateral in everything.”
This was her first White House concert since performing with Stevie Wonder at a state dinner honoring British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998. After performing for more than 50 years, John is on a farewell tour that began in July.
The show came together after A+E Networks, and the History Channel asked the White House and John if they would be ready for a collaboration that honors “everyday history writers” and John himself.
It is unclear whether the series will air or not. John has worked with A+E at the Elton John Foundation, a global HIV/AIDS charity that has raised more than $525 million in donations to fight the virus worldwide in the past.
John wanders around Nationals Park on Saturday to play a sold-out show.
The President and First Lady are big fans. In a memoir from 2017, Biden wrote his two teenage sons to sing “Crocodile Rock” on the way to school and then to his son Beau before he died of cancer at age 46.
“I started saying Beau’s words quietly so just the two of us could hear,” Biden said. “Beau didn’t open her eyes, but I could see her smiling through my own tears.”
John played the song on Friday and said someone told him Biden sings it to his younger children. “I can’t imagine you saying that,” John joked before suggesting that the president take the stage. Did not come. But the whole crowd made “La-La-Las” out of their seats.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was also a fan of John. He tried to get John to perform at his inauguration in 2017, but John refused, saying he thought it was inappropriate for an Englishman to play at the inauguration of an American president.
The White House insisted that Friday’s demonstration was not an effort to troll Trump, who has praised John in his books and has often featured John’s music on pre-rally playlists over the years, including “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer.” Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a “rocket man” because of his record of missile tests.
John played to thunderous applause on both Fridays.