There was Crocodile Rockin’ on the White House South Lawn.
Even rocker Elton John was blown away by the glamorous setting in front of the White on Friday night, with President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden in attendance.
“I don’t know what to say, what a dump,” John joked as he took the stage with a lit-up White House in the background, before getting serious. “I’ve played in some beautiful places before, but this is probably the icing on the cake.”
John swung by the South Lawn for a show called “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,” a reference to a poem by Irish Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney that President Joe Biden often quotes.
A giant open-air tent and stage were set up on the White House lawn for the show. The 2,000-person guest list included teachers, nurses, frontline workers and LGBTQ advocates, plus civil rights advocate Ruby Bridges and Jeanne White-Ginder, an AIDS activist and mother of Ryan White, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1990. Former first Lady Laura Bush was also in attendance.
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Jill Biden introduced President Biden, calling him a “huge fan who also happens to be the President of the United States”
Biden praised John for his music, thanking him for “raising the soul of our nation” and for the singer’s philanthropic work for HIV/AIDs.
“Seamus Heaney once wrote, and I quote, ‘Once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme,'” Biden said. “Throughout his incredible career, Sir Elton John has been that tidal wave, a tidal wave to help people rise up and make hope and history rhyme.”
During the set, John praised Ryan White, saying he got sober six months after the teen’s death and dedicating “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to him.
“Ryan, you saved my life, thank you so much,” said John.
John played “Crocodile Rock” in the set, a favorite song of Biden’s.
Biden wrote in 2017 the memoir “Promise Me, Dad” about singing “Crocodile Rock” to his two young boys as he drove them to school, and again later to his son Beau before he died of cancer at age 46.
“I started singing the lyrics to Beau, quietly, so just the two of us could hear it,” Biden wrote. “Beau didn’t open his eyes, but I could see through my own tears that he was smiling.”
At the end of the show, Biden surprised John with the National Humanities Medal, for his songbook and his long legacy of advocacy.
John admitted to being blown away by the evening and the medal, saying, “I will treasure this so much.”
Contributing: Associated Press