What Barack Obama Said When He Gave Paul McCartney an Award
President Barack Obama gave Paul McCartney one of the United States’ most prestigious musical awards. The honor is named after two of the country’s most consequential musicians. Paul revealed what he thought about receiving such a prize — as well as what he thought about Obama.
Barack Obama gave Paul McCartney an award named after jazz icon George Gershwin
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is a lifetime achievement award given out for musical excellence. It’s named after brothers George and Ira Gershwin, who were known for their classic jazz compositions. According to The Obama White House archive, Obama gave Paul this incredible award in 2010.
The president’s remarks referenced the infamous BP oil spill. “We’ve gone through a difficult year and a half, and right now our thoughts and our prayers are with friends in another part of the country that is so rich in musical heritage — the people of the Gulf Coast who are dealing with something that we simply had not seen before. And it’s heartbreaking,” he said. “And we reaffirm, I think together, our commitment to see to it that their lives and their communities are made whole again.”
Obama elaborated on the importance of music. “But part of what gets us through tough times is music, the arts, the ability to capture that essential kernel of ourselves, that part of us that sings even when times are hard,” he said. “And it’s fitting that the Library has chosen to present this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to a man whose father played Gershwin compositions for him on the piano; a man who grew up to become the most successful songwriter in history — Sir Paul McCartney.”
Barack Obama said The Beatles were not the 1st rock stars but they still changed music
Obama said that popular music rarely stands the test of time but Paul’s music did. He praised The Beatles for changing American music “overnight” when they first came to the U.S. Obama noted that. All these years later, Paul was still playing the bass he played when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Obama said the Fab Four weren’t the original rock stars and they didn’t claim to be. In Obama’s opinion, The Beatles paved the way for many artists who came after them. He said the band changed how people thought about music and performed it.
Why Paul McCartney receiving the award was a unique event in U.S. history
Paul said he was elated to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He was especially proud to receive it from Obama. Paul acknowledged that Obama had plenty of problems to solve but said that “billions” of people were rooting for him.
According to the official website of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, every other recipient of the award has been American. That makes Paul’s accomplishment even more impressive. While it might seem strange that he was honored in this way, Paul undeniably inspired numerous American musicians.