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Joni Mitchell and More Salute Elton John and Bernie Taupin at Gershwin Prize Tribute

'I'm so proud to be British, and to be here in America to receive this award, because all my heroes were American,' John said.

Source: Universal Archive/Universal Images Group/Newscom/The Mega Agency

Taupin and John awarded gold albums for John's self-titled debut in 1971.

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Elton John and Bernie Taupin were the recipients of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, and a clutch of the pair's famous fans descended upon Washington D.C. to pay tribute to the songwriters in a ceremony aired on April 8.

In a particularly touching and sweet moment, Joni Mitchell, who received the Gershwin Prize honor in 2023, was joined by Brandi Carlile, Annie Lennox, Blake Mills and Davey Johnstone for a jazzy, blues-infused version of "I'm Still Standing." Mitchell related that the song held personal meaning to her as she recovered from a brain aneurysm a decade ago. Listen and watch the clip below.

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The evening was full of star--studded tributes to classic John/Taupin songs, and perhaps the most unique rendition of the event was the eight-minute "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" from hard rock giants Metallica. The opening track from 1973's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road originally clocks in at 11 minutes and was considered too long for a single release. However, FM stations with a penchant for rock epics gave it significant airplay, and it is now regarded as one of John's masterpieces.

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Source: PBS

Metallica | Funeral for a Friend and Love Lies Bleeding

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Maren Morris also took the stage with "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," Annie Lennox gave the proper reverence to "Border Song," and Brandi Carlile ripped out a fiery version of "Madman Across the Water." By far the most elaborate performance came from master of ceremonies Billy Porter, who lit up the stage and the crowd with 1974's "The Bitch Is Back," as longtime Elton John Band guitarist Johnstone played foil to Porter as he recreated his iconic riffs.

Source: PBS

Billy Porter | "The Bitch is Back"

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Both John and Taupin took to the stage to make emotional acceptance speeches and thanks, as John commented, "I'm so proud to be British, and to be here, in America to receive this award because all my heroes were American." Taupin stepped up next to John. "I'd just like to say that, quite honestly beside from some of the songs in the earliest, earliest of days of our writing, pretty much everything that I've written emanates from this country.

"Whether it's the heartland, whether it's the urban jungle, it's all been a palette for everything I've written."

Source: WETA Washington, D.C.; Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc.; and the Library of Congress.

Elton John and Bernie Taupin Accept The Gershwin Prize | PBS

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Created in recognition of the legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin, the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is among the nation's highest awards for popular music. Previous recipients of the award include Paul Simon;,Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Garth Brooks, Lionel Richie and Joni Mitchell.


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