Bob Di Piero, Clint Black and Patty Loveless at the Library of Congress. (Josh Sisk/FTWP)

“I’m a world-famous songwriter, which means you don’t know who the h--- I am,” DiPiero announced to kick off the evening at the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress.

Billed as a way to bring a little Nashville to Washington and get the behind-the-scenes of Music City, both DiPiero and Nichols traded lightning-fast banter during the nearly two-hour concert and gave an illuminating, self-deprecating look into what it’s like to pen songs for a living.

Nichols, known for Tim McGraw’s smash “Live Like You Were Dying,” along with Chris Young’s “The Man I Want To Be” and Lee Ann Womack’s “I’ll Think of a Reason Later,” told jokes:

What’s the difference between a songwriter and a large pizza? A pizza can feed a family of four. What do you call a songwriter in a three-piece suit? A defendant. Etc.

Sitting in a row, each singer told a story of a song, and then played the tune on stage. With just the sounds of voices and acoustic guitar, the whole evening took on an intimate feel, with the tone of a giant group hug. The four performers helped each other out, providing harmonies and extra strings, as each person took their turn. When Black sang “When I Say I Do,” normally a duet with his wife Lisa Hartman Black, Loveless flawlessly filled in.

Bob Di Piero, Clint Black, Patty Loveless, Todd Lombardo, Tim Nichols.

Loveless and Black, who may have known they were the evening’s main draws, good-naturedly played along with all the riffing. “I don’t have any wise cracks - I’m a little on the serious side,” Loveless admitted, before belting out the aching scorned lover ballad “Here I Am.”

“As they say, never follow circus acts, little kids, or Patty Loveless,” DiPiero added after the several hundred in the crowd burst out of riveted silence into thunderous applause.