In February, Bob Dylan played the White House, as he has done many times before during many administrations. His performance of "The Times They Are A-Changin," which can be downloaded here and is embedded below, was part of the White House Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement. President Barack Obama, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, talked about meeting Dylan and even reviewed the concert. Though Obama has never been known as much of a fan of the 1960s folk revival movement from which Dylan sprung--the president's favorite musician is Stevie Wonder and he's referenced Jay-Z in the past--he expressed surprisingly nuanced and even self-critical views about Dylan. Here's what he had to say:
Here's what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you'd expect he would be. He wouldn't come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn't want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn't show up to that. He came in and played "The Times They Are A-Changin'." A beautiful rendition. The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage — I'm sitting right in the front row — comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left. That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That's how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don't want him to be all cheesin' and grinnin' with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise. So that was a real treat.
Here's the performance. The White House's high-quality but somewhat buggy video is here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.