Sir Paul McCartney called the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a “disgrace” and “terrible,” but wouldn’t criticize President Obama, telling journalists to take it easy on the president.
“It’s a disgrace,” said McCartney, the 67-year-old former Beatle, of the oil spill crisis during a Monday afternoon press conference at the Library of Congress. “I think the fact that something like that could happen and the people who are to blame don’t have the ability to instantly cap it and clean it up, it’s something that’s got to be addressed.”
Asked what advice he has for fellow environmentalists concerned about the spill, McCartney said, “I’m not a politician, so I wouldn’t know.”
“It’s too big a question for me to answer,” said McCartney, who is being awarded the Library’s third Gershwin Prize for Popular Song for musicians whose careers reflect a lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of artistic expression and cultural understanding.
But the British icon made a point several times during the conference to show his admiration for Obama, for whom he is playing a concert for at the White House on Tuesday. “I will say, I’m a big fan,” McCartney said of the president.
“He’s a great guy. So lay off of him,” he said to the laughter of Washington journalists assembled.
Some of the fawning journalists assembled in the Thomas Jefferson building of the Library of Congress had a hard time actually asking questions. In fact, the first journalist to rise with a question during the conference only asked for an autograph.
Though across the street from the Capitol, McCartney mostly stuck to music, rather than politics. Of all the songs he’s composed, he says he’s written so many he can’t remember them all.
“There’s just too many for me to retain. I don’t know them all. There’s just a few that I could do if I’m at a party and there’s a piano.”
Two of those songs, he said, that he plays often are “Long and Winding Road” and “Blackbird.”
He admitted, though, he’s nervous playing in front of the president tomorrow. “For an English kid growing up in Liverpool — the White House, that’s pretty special,” he said.