Duo Elton John, Bernie Taupin clinch 2024 Lib of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Elton John, & BernieTaupin/ Courtesy: X/@librarycongress

Elton John and Bernie Taupin, the songwriting duo with over 50-plus years who had conquered the pop music world were the recipients of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the Library of Congress.

Having sold some 300 million records as well as co-writing dozens of classics with timeless melodies bringing back an era of music, the duo were able to win over new generations of fans.

Thanking America for the incredible legacy music has given, John told the audience at Constitution Hall he was so proud to be British and about all the songs the Gershwin Brothers had written adding that he was humbled to receive this award.

With the lyrics being written by Taupin while John composed the music, together, they produced a string of hits that made Elton the biggest, and most outrageously dressed, rock star on the planet. 

Both the audience and the honorees were overjoyed by the presence of some major stars who were the duo’s biggest fans onstage to pay tribute.

Present in this ceremony were previous Gershwin Prize recipients Garth Brooks and Joni Mitchell, ’80s pop diva Annie Lennox and rising country star Maren Morris, heavy metal icons Metallica and modern folkie Brandi Carlile, contemporary popster Charlie Puth, Jacob Lusk of the Gabriels, and SistaStrings, who provided support on violin and cello.

The performance was kicked off by Metallica band followed by guitarist James Hetfield and bassist Robert Trujillo tossing guitar picks giving standing ovations to members of Congress on their way out.

Brooks delivered the plaintive ballad “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” for which, in a reversal of their usual practice, John wrote the opening lyrics: “What have I got to do to make you love me? What have I got to do to make you care?”

Supported by Carlile and Lennox on vocals, Mitchell took the stage turning a high-energy John-Taupin song about living through a romantic breakup sang, “I’m still standing better than I ever did, looking like a true survivor.” 

The highlight of the evening was Lusk, sitting next to the pianist, preacheing the gospel of John and Taupin’s brilliant work, and then taking “Bennie and the Jets” to church followed by John’s version leading both Bennie and Lusk to be applaused by the audience.

With his often-outrageous stage moves and outfits, as a performer John paved the way other rockers  

The evening’s host, Broadway star Billy Porter was detoured by John and Taupin in the front row to sing a few lines with a flourish, tossing his jacket to the audience.

Near evening’s end, John, seated at a red piano performed “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and “Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting)”.

“Their music has touched the nation and become part of the American songbook. They gave us ‘Your Song,’ and now we give them the nation’s highest award for influence, impact and achievement in popular music: the Gershwin Prize.” Librarian of Congress was reported saying.

“Elton John: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” will be broadcast on PBS stations at 8 p.m. EST on April 8.

The list is as follows:

Metallica, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”

Annie Lennox, “Border Song”

Garth Brooks, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”

Brandi Carlile, “Madman Across the Water”

Billy Porter, “The Bitch Is Back”

Jacob Lusk, “Bennie and the Jets”

Maren Morris, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”

Charlie Puth, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”

Brandi Carlile, “Skyline Pigeon”

Garth Brooks, “Daniel”

Joni Mitchell, I’m Still Standing”

Elton John, “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”

Elton John, “Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting)”

Elton John, “Your Song”