A week ago, Carole King was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Last night, on its In Performance from the White House, PBS broadcast the event. The first half had a number of singers performing in tribute -- they included James Taylor, Billy Joel, Gloria Estefan and Trisha Yearwood. For the second half, Carole King performed solo. (Except for a duet with James Taylor, singing...oh, you know.)
The highlight for me was Estefan, Yearwood and Emeli Sand with a wonderful girl-group performance of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?", complete with appropriate choreography. Billy Joel also had a lively rendition of "Do the Locomotion" and teamed up with James Taylor very nicely for "Crying in the Rain."
Most fun might have been seeing Carole King having the time of her life, and singing along much of the time from her front row seat. The president makes a very funny off-the-cuff remark about his mother-in-law when he gets up at the end.
Anyway, in case you missed it, for your viewing pleasure I've embedded the hour-long broadcast below. I don't know how long PBS will have it online. Sometimes there's a limited shelf-life, though that doesn't appear to be the case here, since nothing on the website is mentioned about that.
I had a chance to meet Carole King once. It was at her house, where a political fund-raising event was being held and a friend brought me as a guest. Ted Kennedy was the guest-speaker, and at one point, rather than making a speech he and his wife Vicki instead sang a funny song with parody lyrics.
At the end of the event, when most people had cleared out, about four of us (with Carole King) were chatting. She was dating a friend of mine at the time, so I'd hung around. My recollection is that she was very charming, self-effacing and totally unpretentious. The only thing I specifically remember were a couple of things about Internet chat rooms. She mentioned not being particularly Internet savvy and didn't spend much time online, but did once go to a chat room where she was the topic. She was curious about what it was like. I asked if she ever posted anything, and she said that she did once. The problem was that they wouldn't believe she was really Carole King. She said (as best as I can remember), "One person challenged me, and asked what was the color of the sweater I was wearing at some concert in, like, Cincinnati in 1992. I had absolutely no idea, but the person did. It was red. So, he didn't believe I was me," she said, laughing pretty hard. "I kept reading, and these people all knew me and the details of my life better than I did!"
She also mentioned that she read the chat room for about an hour and then realized, "I thought to myself, what am I doing?? I had just wasted an hour reading all this about myself and so I finally stopped."
And with that, on with the show --
Watch Carole King: Library of Congress Gershwin Prize Full Episode on PBS. See more from In Performance at The White House.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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