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HOH’s One-Minute Recess: Songs in the Key of Congress

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wears many hats — politician, mother, author — but apparently musician isn’t one of them.

The California Democrat took to the stage at Tuesday night’s “We Write the Songs” concert at the Library of Congress, which celebrated the recent donation of the archives of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers to the Library.

Pelosi was introduced by Susan Vita, the chief of the Library’s music division. Vita noted that as a child, Pelosi took “years of piano lessons” but ultimately decided to enter politics.

It is perhaps a more fitting job, Pelosi joked. In fact, of leaving the music behind, Pelosi joked, “I did not decide that. Others decided that.”

Dozens of Members were on hand for the show, which featured some of the nation’s premier songwriters performing their biggest hits, including Hal David (who wrote “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”), Don Schlitz (“The Gambler”) and Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”).

Members introduced each of the performers — and Pelosi wasn’t the only one to admit having less-than-spectacular musical talents.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recalled that when his mother was on her deathbed earlier this year, she requested that he sing a Lutheran hymn he performed with the church choir as a child. Brown obliged, he said — although his mother’s response was a bit unexpected.

“You know Sherrod, that was really nice, but really you sound better in a group,” he recalled her saying.

Astronaut and former Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) also attended Tuesday’s show. Singer Monica Mancini dedicated her performance of “Moon River” (written by her father, Henry Mancini) to Glenn, noting that the song was hugely popular around the time the astronaut first orbited the Earth.

Mancini also dedicated the song to Sen. Patrick Leahy and his wife, recalling that earlier in the night the Vermont Democrat mentioned it has “special meaning” for him and his wife, Marcelle.

One of the funnier moments of the night came as Sen. Barbara Boxer prepared to introduce songwriter Alan Bergman. Stagehands had placed a rather large black box near the podium, allowing her to reach the microphone (the height-challenged California Democrat often stands on a small box when giving speeches).

But the huge box got in the way of ASCAP President Paul Williams, who introduced Boxer. “I don’t know what this is,” he said, kicking the box away from the podium and drawing laughter from the crowd.

“I asked for a telephone book to stand on and this is what I got: a mountain,” Boxer joked as she took the stage.

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