Barack Obama: ‘Bob Dylan was sceptical about playing for me at the White House’

Plus the US president lists his iPod choices

US president Barack Obama has said Bob Dylan was “sceptical” about meeting and playing for him at the White House recently.

Dylan performed ‘The Times They Are A-Changin” for the president in February, at a show honouring the leaders of Civil Rights movement.

Speaking to, Obama said that, while most musicians who perform for him usually ask for a meet and greet session, Dylan was nonplussed.


“He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practising 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 [Obama, First Lady] 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.”

However, Obama added that he was pleased at the way Dylan conducted himself.

“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 sceptical about the whole enterprise.”

Meanwhile, the president revealed that he has artists including Nas and Lil Wayne on his iPod, alongside the likes of Dylan, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.


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