The Times They Did A-Change

Apr 7, 2009 3:50pm

In an interview with the Times of London, Bob Dylan sings the praises of President Obama in his own inimitable style.

Dylan said he read "Dreams From My Father" and thought Obama’s "writing style hits you on more than one level. It makes you feel and think at the same time and that is hard to do. He says profoundly outrageous things. He’s looking at a shrunken head inside of a glass case in some museum with a bunch of other people and he’s wondering if any of these people realize that they could be looking at one of their ancestors."

Nothing in the book made Dylan think Obama would ever be a good politician. "In some sense you would think being in the business of politics would be the last thing that this man would want to do," he said, guessing instead that Mr. Obama would be "an investment banker on Wall Street…selling German bonds. But he probably could’ve done anything. If you read his book, you’ll know that the political world came to him. It was there to be had."

Obama is a fan of Dylan and told Rolling Stone he has "probably 30 Dylan songs on my iPod”, including many songs from the 1975 Blood on the Tracks album.

Maggie’s Farm” is “one of my favorites during the political season,” Obama told the magazine last June. “It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric.”

Dylan said that the President is "like a fictional character, but he’s real. First off, his mother was a Kansas girl. Never lived in Kansas though, but with deep roots. You know, like Kansas bloody Kansas. John Brown the insurrectionist. Jesse James and Quantrill. Bushwhackers, Guerillas. Wizard of Oz Kansas. I think Barack has Jefferson Davis back there in his ancestry someplace. And then his father. An African intellectual. Bantu, Masai, Griot type heritage – cattle raiders, lion killers. I mean it’s just so incongruous that these two people would meet and fall in love. You kind of get past that though. And then you’re into his story. Like an odyssey except in reverse."

(Actually, Barack Obama, Sr., is a member of the Luo tribe, which are fishermen, farmers, politicians, and such. But anyway…)

Asked if he thinks Mr. Obama will make a good president, Dylan says, "I have no idea. He’ll be the best president he can be. Most of those guys come into office with the best of intentions and leave as beaten men. Johnson would be a good example of that … Nixon, Clinton in a way, Truman, all the rest of them going back. You know, it’s like they all fly too close to the sun and get burned."

– jpt

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