It wasn’t exactly the middle of the night, but yesterday evening Dave took me to the coolest concert/event I have ever attended — the 2014 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song Award Ceremony and Tribute Concert.
The Library of Congress honored recipient Billy Joel at the DAR Constitution Hall through a series of tributes by an amazing lineup. Kevin Spacey hosted the show, guiding the audience through performances by Boys II Men, LeAnn Rimes, Gavin DeGraw, Natalie Maines, Josh Groban, John Mellencamp and Tony Bennett. Each artist put their own spin on a different Billy Joel tune, from classics like The Longest Time and Still Rock and Roll to Me, to the lesser known Lullaby and Allentown. My personal favorites were Boys II Men, Gavin DeGraw and Natalie Maines!
Congratulatory video messages from Barbra Streisand, James Taylor and Paul McCartney played periodically throughout the show, as well as a couple dance scenes performed onstage from the Broadway musical Movin’ Out inspired by Joel’s music. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Kathy took me to see it during one of our NYC trips and it is spectacular!
Librarian of Congress James Billington and Justice Sotomayor presented the award with various members of congress, including my girl Nancy Pelosi. Joel accepted with complete grace. He was humble, but not self-deprecating, and also so very proud. (As he should be!) Watching him buff the Gershwin and move it around with him as he sang a few songs himself, I felt like we were true friends. (Do you remember the scene from The Holiday where Arthur finally receives his award? It felt like that, and I was obviously Iris watching proudly from the audience.) I guess that’s part of what makes him so talented and successful, his ability to connect with the audience on a level that is different from many other artists.
With each performance I felt that the evening simply could not get any better … and then the others came out to join Joel for the final song. You guessed it, Piano Man. Did you know Kevin Spacey can sing? Not only that, but he can also play the harmonica! It was surreal. The whole night was beautiful and such a fantastic way to honor a true legend.
Be sure to tune into PBS on Jan. 2 so you can see for yourself! Maybe you’ll even see us in the audience. I’m the one in the black and white houndstooth dress with tears in her eyes and a big ass smile on her face!