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Elton John seated at red piano with Bernie Taupin standing behind piano. Image of the two men projected on rear screen.
Elton John performs during a concert in Washington on Wednesday, March 20, during which he and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin were awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Photo by Elaina Finkelstein/Library of Congress.

“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”

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Here in Washington, D.C., we are lucky to have experienced approximately 87% of “lunar coverage” during the 2024 solar eclipse. You can keep the party going tonight. Trade out your eclipse glasses for a pair of rhinestone studded Elton John-style glasses for the broadcast premiere of “Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” on PBS (8 p.m. ET/check local listings).

Image of 5 books on book cart with rhinestone studded glasses in front of them.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin Shelfie, April 2024. Nicholas Brown-Cáceres/Library of Congress.

Filmed at DAR Constitution Hall last month, the 2024 Gershwin Prize broadcast is an all-star tribute to the legendary songwriting duo that has given the world over 5 decades’-worth of hits, from “Your Song” to “Bennie and the Jets” and more. The concert lineup includes performances by 2023 Gershwin Prize honoree Joni Mitchell, 2020 Gershwin Prize honoree Garth Brooks, Brandi Carlile, Annie Lennox, Metallica, Maren Morris, Billy Porter, Charlie Puth and Jacob Lusk of Gabriels, along with appearances by John and Taupin. Porter hosts the television event. You can also stream the show on PBS.org and the PBS App, and it will also be available to U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world via the American Forces Network.

Image of Metallica band performing on a stage.
Metallica performs at Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., March 20, 2024. Photo by Elaina Finkelstein/Library of Congress

Gershwin Prize week brings a host of opportunities for the honorees and participating artists to engage with Library of Congress staff and curators. This was especially the case with this year’s honorees. Elton John, Bernie Taupin, and their guests spent time exploring several of the Library’s collections while they visited in March. They saw treasures from the American Folklife Center, Prints & Photographs Division, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Manuscript Division, Music Division, National Audiovisual Conservation Center, and the U.S. Copyright Office. The Music Division was also able to share treasures with featured artists Billy Porter and SistaStrings.

Elton John views a music manuscript displayed on a table. Main Reading Room in the background.
Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoree Elton John looks over a special collections display of Gershwin sheet music with Ray White of the Music Division in the Library of Congress Main Reading Room, March 19, 2024. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.
Bernie Taupin points at a music manuscript on a table in the Main Reading Room. Library staff member Mark Horowitz also points to the manuscript.
Bernie Taupin explores collection items with Mark Horowitz of the Music Division in the Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress, March 19, 2024. Photo by Elaina Finkelstein/Library of Congress.

The Music Division’s display for Elton John and Bernie Taupin included a range of collection items that directly relate to their career and the Great American Songbook. The selections included music sketches by Aaron Copland for “Appalachian Spring” and “Rodeo,” the holograph score for Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide,” works by Cole Porter, lyric sketches from “The Sound of Music” by Oscar Hammerstein II, John Philip Sousa manuscripts for “Star[s] and Stripes Forever” and “The Liberty Bell,” the manuscript of Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train,” Copyright deposits of songs by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, songs by Merle Haggard, and a wide range of items from the George and Ira Gershwin Collection.

Monique Ross of musical duo SistaStrings performs on the Library’s Stradivarius cello during a visit, March 21, 2024. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

Billy Porter views music collection items on table.
Actor and singer Billy Porter looks over a collection of Music Division treasures with curator Caitlin Miller, March 21, 2024. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

 

We hope tonight’s broadcast inspires you to engage with the Library’s collections. Click here to learn more about our holdings and click here to submit a reference inquiry to the Performing Arts Reading Room. Visit the Gershwin Prize webpage to learn more about this year’s and previous honorees.

Comments (4)

  1. This awards show was so down to earth Audience included I felt a personal connection and a joining in feeling

    • Thanks for tuning in, glad you enjoyed!

  2. My Croation relatives were historic musicians and music makers. My cousin, Nick Rodina, was instrumental in carrying on the music traditions of the Croation heritage. Nick was a music teacher plus actually made musical instruments such as the Tamburitza and Dobro. His tools that made these instruments are in the Strawberry Hill Museum in Kansas City, Ks. I am proud to be related to the Rodina’s and to have been fortunate to see and hear music performed live that was so important to the heritage. Nick was a very talented man. Not only was he involved in the Croation music but was also a beekeeper and a mason. Most of his instruments he made were bought by parents of children to carry on the traditional music.
    My appreciation of music carried on into the music I heard on the radio. Knowing the difficulty in creating a harmony with words others can relate to is nothing short of amazing. In short, I grew to love all types of music and tonight I witnessed the honors given to Elton John and Bernie Taupin at the Library of Congress. It was a deserving award for the pair. The other artists at that event that performed their music was just as impressive and made their music sound new and exciting.
    I am going to be 63 in June so, in my opinion, I grew up in an era of some of the best rock and roll music ever created.
    Please accept my deepest appreciation for the content of tonight’s broadcast show.
    I have high hopes the band Kansas will be considered as an inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so others can celebrate them as one of the most important progressive rock bands that most members were classically trained artists which was unusual but turned out to be some very innovative music they created.
    Thank you for reading my comments and please respond if anyone feels the need to communicate with me.
    Steven Glover

    • Thanks for sharing and for watching the program!

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