Here's Barack Obama getting it wrong about Bob Dylan's place of birth, and being tacky enough to mention U2, but being a genuine enthusiast. And here's Bob, wearing dark glasses indoors, and being minimalist:


  1. Anonymous31 May, 2012

    His pockets have buckles.

  2. I think Bob loves all that attention, his eyebrows purring under the shades when they pat his head. Who can blame him, though? He deserves it and as these things go, it must have felt special to him.

    Day of the Locusts part 2 is on the new album, by the way. I just started that rumour right now!

  3. I wonder how it plays in middle america in an election year?. Well done Obama despite the inaccuracies. Well done Bob for just being Bob.

  4. Anonymous02 June, 2012

    This cuts out the (non-Obama) intro

  5. Anonymous05 June, 2012

    "They mistake your shyness for aloofness, your silence for snobbery"

    I would just like to defend the President over the way the broad smile eventually got wiped from his face as the po-faced Bob made to shuffle off after the brief man-patting. Dylan's refusal to smile or take off his sunglasses probably stung a little. Watch the way Obama's smile disappears rapidly. He is the President after all, while Dylan is just an angry young man turned 71. He doesn't have to fasten triggers or loosen them.

    "To Bob, all of us who thought we were his buddies, were just hangers-on to be unceremoniously discarded as he climbed to fame, sometimes using our backs as rungs in his ladder, finally reaching a pinnacle at which he contemptuously decided that fame is a curse.

    Did he blame us? Or did he blame his own ambition? Obviously, fame is exactly what he himself had sought."

  6. Anonymous05 June, 2012

    Will Obama follow Bob's casket on a pale afternoon? One thing I do know: he's younger.

  7. Anonymous06 June, 2012

    Was Obama's sky-blue perspective on Dylan down to rose-tinted spectacles? (Which would, for example, telescope the Sixties and Seventies with the Noughties - if the popular view of the Eighties is assumed as a premise).

    Bob was looking through black-hills-of-Dakota-tinted spectacles. As for who was viewing whom as a pale-afternoon prospect, who was viewing whom as a darker or whiter shade of pale, who was turning whom pale (or was already pale), and who was paling into insignificance next to who, all I can say is: when Bob is in the darkness, why must Obama intrude?

    Suze Rotolo:
    "People live with hope for green trees and beautiful flowers, but Dylan seems to lack that sort of simple hope, at least he did from 1964 to 1966. This darkness wasn’t new to me. It became stronger as the years passed by."

    The Poet kept mute conference
    With his still soul

  8. Thank you all for your comments. I'd just like to respond to the first Anonymous from June 5, who complains about Dylan being po-faced and wiping the smile off President Obama's own face. It's a point of view, but we have the long history of Dylan's unease in these matters. And this is something Obama himself has gone on record as understanding and appreciating, to his great credit. After the 2010 concert at which Dylan performed at the White House, the President told Rolling Stone this:

    "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... 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."

  9. Rambling Gambling Gordon08 June, 2012

    Compare Obama’s gracious and apposite comments to the likes of Gordon Brown’s God-awful references to the Arctic Monkeys – or indeed just about any other politician’s attempts to look or sound ‘cool’ by talking about supposedly favourite bands or singers. They just can’t do it. Obama, well yes he can.

    I’m trying not to think of what would have happened had George W. Bush presented Dylan with the medal. Or if Bono were to get an award at the White House.

    Dylan was fine – distanced but not ostentatiously so, cool as hell in shades (at seventy-one), funny without trying.

  10. You're right of course. They can't and he can.

  11. Anonymous09 June, 2012

    Personally, I feel Obama had been upstaged in advance by Tony Blair's admiration for The Darkness - some guy in tight leather pants with long hair I seem to recall.

    One of Dylan's admirable qualities is his not drawing attention (behind his ostentatious displays of "shyness") to the tackiness of other performers by refusing to associate with them as he would were he supercilious. Which of course can come in handy if you need a guitarist and only Ron Wood is available. (Satanist Mick resented Born Again Bob, the Jehovah of Rock, to the bone - but still felt the need to elbow him out of the way onstage in Rio, '98 I think. I recall some Telegraph piece [Bauldie not broadsheet] which said something along the lines of Dylan not being so far apart from Jagger - in narcissism, though I would see that as a misguided equation). What's puzzling Sir Mick is the nature of Bob's game.

    Maybe Mick should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his services to the advent of Communism?

    I stuck around St. Petersburg
    When I saw it was a time for a change
    Killed the czar and his ministers
    Anastasia screamed in vain

    Guess Dylan has too rebellious an image to get a knighthood from the Queen (though I'm not too well up on whether Yanks can get them).

  12. Anonymous09 June, 2012

    And of course Obama distanced himself from his genuine (or well-faked) admiration for Dylan by getting a piece or two of trivia wrong which fanatics wouldn't.

    I didn't notice any inaccuracies at the time, and have since struggled to come up with more than one. I guess that's what comes of only being a casual fan and having a country to run. Unlike Obama.

  13. John Baldwin's Desolation Row Information Service has drawn my attention to an attractive, thoughtful blogpost about this event by SageMerlin. It's at http://open.salon.com/blog/sagemerlin/2012/05/30/the_vagabond_in_the_white_house

  14. Elmer Gantry30 March, 2014

    And who says there is never any good news anymore: