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US Library of Congress honors Paul McCartney

The former Beatle performed at a private concert for Nancy Pelosi, Stevie Wonder, and Jerry Seinfeld. He will play for President Obama at the White House Wednesday.

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Faced with the Washington press corps, McCartney was quizzed on his inspiration for songwriting, his opinion on whether performers should earn royalties for when their work is played on the radio (he thinks they should) and even got a few autograph requests.

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This is McCartney's first major lifetime achievement award from the U.S. government. He was slated to win a Kennedy Center Honor, the nation's top prize for performing artists, in 2002, but backed out because of a scheduling conflict. In 1990, McCartney won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Stevie Wonder and Seinfeld are part of an all-star lineup that will honor McCartney at the White House concert. The concert will be televised July 28 nationwide on PBS.

Performers also will include White Stripes singer and guitarist Jack White, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, singers Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and others.

McCartney was knighted as Sir Paul in 1997 for his service to music. Thirty years earlier, he and the rest of the Fab Four were dubbed Members of the Order of the British Empire, a step below knighthood and an honor that drew some protests.

The one-time teen idol has since made his name as an environmentalist and animal rights supporter.

He said the Gulf Coast oil spill is "a disgrace" and those responsible must know how to cap a gusher if they're allowed to drill at the sea floor in the future.

On Tuesday, he performed "Yesterday" with the Loma Mar Quartet, which played string instruments from the library's Stradivari collection dating back to the late 1600s. Pianist Lang Lang also performed on George Gershwin's piano.

Pelosi went gaga over the former Beatle.

"Congratulations, Sir Paul," Pelosi said. She thanked him for letting Americans travel with him "down the long and winding road," and added "P.S. We love you."