Paul McCartney Nets Third Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Have you ever had to keep a secret?  A huge, exciting secret?

A few weeks ago the head of our Music Division called to inform me that the third recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song would be Sir Paul McCartney.  I’m fairly certain that they heard my reaction in the office next door.

This was not an easy thing for me to keep under wraps as we put the pieces in place for our announcement.  Paul McCartney is only my favorite musician of all time.  (It took a while, but eventually he surpassed Mozart.)

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who made the selection, said, “It is hard to think of another performer and composer who has had a more indelible and transformative effect on popular song and music of several different genres than Paul McCartney.”

Or put more succinctly by The Washington Post, “Macca rules!” (external link)

McCartney joins music legends Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder as fellow honorees.

The Gershwin Prize “celebrates the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding.”  You can read more about it here.

The Prize will be bestowed next spring, and keep your eye out for an all-star tribute concert thereafter on broadcast television.


  1. Scott W
    November 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Congratulations to Dr. James H. Billington for his sound judgement in naming Sir. Paul McCartney as recipient of the 3rd Gershwin Award.

    There was little doubt that Sir. Paul McCartney’s body of music recordings would live on, possibly forever.
    Alas, now with our 13th Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billingtons selection we are assured of Mcca’s musical destiny.

    Last months much antcipated release of the Beatles catalogue. Newly digitized remastered works of the Beatles 14 albums, 40 years old. They sound so fresh and crisp it’s as if we were taken inside studio 1 at Abbey Road with the lads.

    Sir George Martin and son Giles loving reverence to these musical treasures. Reopening a time vault of music filled with passion and brillant songwriting that had been frozen in time.

    My 20 year old Son, as well as all his peers at university are huge Beatles, Wings, and each individual Beatles solo efforts fans.
    Sleeping outside a major retailer all night, last month to be assured a $200 boxed set of remasters was their own.
    In a troubled worldwide economy the Beatles (John,Paul,George,& Ringo) are 24 karat gold.

    Just look at the Las Vegas collaboration with the Beatles and Cirque du Soleil for the Sold Out ever show of “LOVE”.
    It’s ‘Getting Better All The Time’ with everything associated with The Beatles, and their solo projects.
    Paul’s recent mini Summer tour was a sell out at every venue, some paying $1000 a seat.

    Then the groundbreaking Beatles Rock Band for all gaming consoles that are the number 1 sought after gift for any young adult.

    Mcca’s newest project, a movie soundtrack, ‘Everything’s Fine’ staring Robert Deniro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale.
    The movie has Mcca in Apple’s studios putting finishing string orchestrations for “On My Own”. McCartney, widower and an empty nester with all his children grown except for his youngest daughter, Beatrice.
    The song ‘On My Own’ goes hand in hand with Deniro’s role, say’s McCartney.
    It’s the holiday’s, Deniro’s he’s a recent widower, and all his children grown. Deniro finds a way to rekindle relationships with his estranged children who hold few memories with their Dad as he was alway’s working

    With Paul McCartney you get an icon that keeps peeling back more and more sweet layers. He is squeezing every drop out of each day.
    To McCartney it’s just,
    “A Day In The Life”

    as those 4 wee lads from Liverpool sang to us:

    Assured by Dr. Billingtons 22 year tenure of the Library of Congress and all he holds dear for us all. Mccartney’s most beautiful works is now safe forever.

    It is not so far fetch an idea when you hear the works of Ludwig van Beethoven played today. 182 years after he past away in the early 19th century.

    Can’t you just imagine 200 years from now Paul’s, ‘Yesterday’ or The Beatles ‘Across The Universe’ is beaming about our other planet outposts.

    All I ever need to hear is ‘In My Life’, but will gladly listen to any and all, as they are all that good.

    ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ it’s time for me to go. As ‘I’m So Tired’ and in need of some ‘Golden Slumbers’.
    So this is ‘The End’

    Scott Wilkie :)
    proud card carrying member of The Library of Congress.

  2. Ron G
    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Well deserved! He will in time be seen as one of the greatest composer/performers of all time.

  3. Jon jay
    November 17, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    How about Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, need more?

  4. Emma
    November 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Which song is it?

  5. Bill Clayton
    November 19, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    A brilliant selection. If only John Lennon could share the spotlight. Paul McCartney has, indeed, written music that helped shape a generation and will do the same with those to come, but he and Lennon had a magic connection — one fed the other.

    The Gershwin Prize celebrates the team of George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team. Why not recognize another team that used its art to change the world?

    Having said that, I still think that Sir Paul is a fabulous choice. His music — be a solo or team composition — is woven into my life.

  6. John Haberstroh
    January 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm


    As the bassist in the popular New England Beatle Tribute band “BeatleTracks,” and a life long Beatle Super Freak, I have to agree with the previous blogger; John Lennon should also be included AND, I would add, the BEATLES as a group. My bias notwithstanding, the four Beatles made a special magic that cannot be duplicated. George Harrison’s guitar phrasing, singing, songwriting along with Ringo’s stellar drumming and unflappable personality both were crucial to the Beatle sound. I invite you to check out the blog I write for BeatleTracks (see our web site under the same name) and follow along with opinions, critiques, essays, mini-series and trivia that, I don’t mind saying, helps explain the magic of the Fab Four. But thank you for recognizing Paul McCartney finally. At least one of the Beatles got recognized by your August body. Please do consider the band.

    Very Sincerely,

    John Haberstroh (Boston)

  7. muscari
    July 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Well deserved! He will in time be seen as one of the greatest composer/performers of all time.

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