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Songwriters Jam at Library of Congress

Even at a concert celebrating songwriters, politics was on everyone’s minds.  To be fair, the concert was right across from the Capitol.  

WIlliams often reminds lawmakers about artists' rights. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
WIlliams often reminds lawmakers about artists’ rights. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a captivating performance of “Crazy on You” by Ann and Nancy Wilson of the legendary band Heart, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., joked about the tensions among lawmakers.  

Boxer told the audience that included Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., “I think we found our new theme song when we’re debating: ‘Crazy On You,’ crazy!  Right, Lamar?  We could do that.” More than 40 members of Congress attended the the sixth annual “We Write the Songs” concert at the Library of Congress Tuesday night.  

The event celebrated the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Foundation’s donation of original manuscripts, lyric sheets, photos and letters to the Library of Congress.  

Democrats and Republicans filled the Coolidge Auditorium as songwriters performed their hit songs.  But the night wasn’t just a celebration.  The artists had another mission in mind.  

“The fact that we have legislators with us tonight … demonstrates the strong bond between those who write the songs and those who write the laws,” said ASCAP President Paul Williams.  

Josh Kear, who wrote “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum, said he hoped the lawmakers in attendance would leave the concert with “a renewed love of music and understanding that we have to take care of that part of our economy.”  

Kear said copyright laws have not kept pace with the evolving music industry and lawmakers should be “making sure that every aspect of them is up to date and matching the current marketplace.”  

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., agreed, telling CQ Roll Call, “We’re not going to have writers of this talent in the future if we don’t protect their rights.”  

Leahy was especially excited for the concert since his longtime friend Alan Bergman would be performing.  Bergman, now 88, authored “The Way We Were,” and received a standing ovation for his heartwarming performance.  

Leahy and Bergman mingled with lawmakers, songwriters and other Washingtonians including former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers at a VIP reception before the concert.  

At 7 p.m., the guests entered the auditorium, where performances spanned across the musical spectrum:  from country to rock, folk to pop, and soft melodies to anthems.  

The lineup also included Carly Simon, Jon Batiste, Randy Newman, Jimmy Webb and Narada Michael Walden.  

The lawmakers, staffers, and members of the music industry let loose, clapping and singing along throughout the night, with some even dancing in their chairs during Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.”  

Simon concluded the concert with “Let the River Run” and the other artists joined her for the final chorus.  

Afterwards, the guests ascended into the main entryway of the library for a late dinner.  Candlelit tables filled the upstairs corridor and a smooth jazz trio played while the guests wined and dined.  

The members of Congress who attended clearly enjoyed the concert, laughing and chatting with one another as they left the auditorium.  

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told the audience towards the end of the night, “If you look across the auditorium, it is full. It is very tough to get members of Congress to stay for an entire evening.”