The Difference

Bill Clinton’s emotional birthday celebration

The Difference

Former President Bill Clinton was a little worried about his ticker during Lady Gaga's number — and it wasn't because the blonde-bewigged singer tossed out the occasional curse word during a live-streaming concert celebrating his foundation's 10th anniversary.

The former president said he'd received advance warning that Lady Gaga was planning what she called her "Marilyn moment," and he was worried about what she had up her sleeve. He shared his panic with the crowd packed in the Hollywood Bowl, telling the audience his big fear: "I wondered, you know, she always kind of goes up to the edge, she said she was going to have a Marilyn moment," he told a packed Hollywood Bowl. "I thought, 'my God, I get Lady Gaga and I will have a heart attack celebrating my 65th birthday.'"

[ Video: Watch the concert in its entirety ]

Emotional moments

His onstage moment came two-thirds of the way through A Decade of Difference, the celebrity-studded concert honoring Clinton's 65th birthday and his foundation's 10th anniversary. Throughout the night, he was choked up by the tribute: The cameras caught him misty-eyed at various moments, starting with Stevie Wonder's opening number, "Sir Duke," when journalist Laura Ling credited him for rescuing her from North Korea (she named her daughter, Li Jefferson Clayton, after him), and during Somalian-Canadian rap artist K'naan's appreciation in befriending the man who tried to help his war-torn country years earlier.

By the time he came out to praise the concert organizers, the performers, and his family, however, the former president had recovered his trademark enthusiasm. "How cool is it to be 65 and you get Lady Gaga, come on?" he gushed, later adding, "I am the only person in history who got to be president and who then had a post-presidential party attended both by Lady Gaga and the Secretary of State." Clinton pointed out that he met his wife Hillary 40 years ago. "When I met her, she was already doing the kind of [charitable] work you have seen here. Long before it was cool, she was a nongovernmental organization all to herself." 

[ Photos: The best images from the show ]

Sounding a political note

Besides a celebration, the concert was also a fundraiser for the William J. Clinton Foundation and called attention to various endeavors, including helping AIDS orphans in Cambodia, malaria-stricken populations in Africa, and earthquake victims of Haiti. The president did sound a pointed but familiar political note. "I have had the most unusual life," he said. "I was born after World War II in the second-poorest state in the country, into a family that never had a college graduate and pouf, lightning struck one time after another. Andi I never ever believed I was born in a log cabin I built myself."

"Nobody climbs a ladder alone, and we are never going to bring this country back by telling people they're on their own. We have got to be America and the world together."

Clinton turned 65 on August 19. The concert was part of a three-day celebration that included a Friday night gala, a Saturday brunch hosted by daughter Chelsea and his son-in-law Mark Mezvinsky, and Sunday golf.

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