There’s no question about Barack Obama being the coolest President America’s ever had, especially now that he’s dished to Rolling Stone about what it was like when he had Bob Dylan over for a jam sesh earlier this year (and by “jam sesh” we mean “celebration of the civil rights movement”).
Here’s what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you’d expect he would be. Obama told the magazine for his October cover story, 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… comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves… 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.
This anecdote has just propelled this concert to the top of my “Coolest White House Performances By Old Guys Who Changed Music Forever” list, above the one where Paul McCartney was honored and played Michelle for the first lady, and Jack White played Mother Nature’s Son for Paul (a screen-capture from which, showing Obama standing in front of lava lamps, has been my desktop background since).
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Obama now listens to Jay-Z, Nas and Lil’ Wayne. We said it before and we’ll say it again: Coolest. President. Ever.