WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner unveiled a bust of late Czech leader Vaclav Havel Wednesday with an unorthodox musical accompaniment -- a quick acoustic blues performance by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons.
Boehner explained the selection of the bearded bluesman for the honor by noting that Havel took great joy from rock ’n’ roll and American blues, and that Gibbons is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Gibbons was happy to oblige, but also seemed to find the choice somewhat offbeat.
"It is indeed a great pleasure to have been allowed to accept this rather unusual, unexpected, but splendid invitation honoring Vaclav Havel,” Gibbons said, seated at a mic in the Capitol's Statuary Hall in front of numerous dignitaries.
"As we all know, through a long series of trials and tribulations, he maintained a sense of vision and ultimately wound up becoming president," Gibbons said, before recounting a minor tribulation of his own sparked by his invitation to the Capitol.
"Thinking through this, I was inspired to attempt write a song called 'In the Presence of a President,' but a friend of mine said, 'Well, he is one president that joins a world full of presidents,'" Gibbons said. "I decided to try and rewrite the song title, 'In the Presence of a Selection of Presidents' -- that didn’t seem to work. 'A Selection of a Few Presidents.' That fell flat. 'In The Presence of a Congress of Presidents.' That just confused it, so we moved on.”
Noting that Havel at times thought about giving up the struggle and leaving Czechoslovakia, Gibbons settled on playing a short, modified version of “Baby Please Don’t Go.”
Watch it above.
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.