We’ve already learned that President Bush’s “iPod One” is loaded with songs from Van Morrison, George Jones, Joni Mitchell and the Knack. And we’re not sure what is on Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain’s MP3 player (if he has one), but a revealing peek at Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama’s iPod reveals a playlist that ranges from jazz to hip-hop, pop and roots rock.
For a candidate who has already shown that he knows how to brush the dirt off his shoulder, it’s no surprise that Obama’s playlist includes some Jay-Z tracks, but according to an interview in the new issue of Rolling Stone that hits stands on Friday, Obama is also a big fan of Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow and the Rolling Stones.
“I have pretty eclectic tastes,” Obama told the magazine, explaining that growing up in the 1970s influenced his fondness for everything from Elton John and Earth, Wind & Fire to the Stones. The anti-Iraq-war candidate said his favorite track from the British rock legends is the pugnacious anthem “Gimme Shelter,” which features the famous refrain “War, children/ It’s just a shot away.”
Among the 30 or so songs by Dylan on Obama’s iPod are tracks from the folk legend’s 1975 album about the dissolution of his marriage, Blood on the Tracks, which features such iconic songs as “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Simple Twist of Fate,” “Idiot Wind” and “You’re a Big Girl Now.”
In the thick of what is promising to be a bruising battle with McCain, Obama said one of his favorites during the political season is Dylan’s 1965 protest song “Maggie’s Farm,” a broadside against those attempting to keep him in check. “It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric,” Obama said of the song, which features the telling lyric “I try my best/ To be just like I am/ But everybody wants you/ To be just like them.”
In a recent interview with The Times of London, Dylan, who has steadfastly refused to make political endorsements in the past, praised Obama, saying, “We’ve got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up: Barack Obama. He’s redefining what a politician is, so we’ll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I’m hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to.”
Another musician on Obama’s playlist supporting his bid is Bruce Springsteen. “I’ve got to say, having both Dylan and Bruce Springsteen say kind words about you is pretty remarkable,” Obama said. “Those guys are icons.” The Illinois senator said he’s never met the Boss, but they’ve talked over the phone, according to an Associated Press report on the Rolling Stone story.
“Not only do I love Bruce’s music, but I just love him as a person,” Obama said. “He is a guy who has never lost track of his roots, who knows who he is, who has never put on a front.” And, yes, he addressed the New Jersey bard as “the Boss,” because, as Obama admitted, “You’ve got to.”
Also on Obama’s playlist are classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma and jazz giants Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker. And though he’s sometimes concerned about the messages his daughters — Malia, 9, and Sasha, 7 — might get from some of the hip-hop they listen to, Obama praised the genre for helping to break down racial barriers.
“I am troubled sometimes by the misogyny and materialism of a lot of rap lyrics,” he said, praising Jay-Z, Ludacris and hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons for being “great talents and great businessmen.” “But I think the genius of the art form has shifted the culture and helped to desegregate music. … It would be nice if I could have my daughters listen to their music without me worrying that they were getting bad images of themselves.”