A close reading of Obama’s iPod

Obama, everybody’s favorite presidential candidate under the age of 72, recently told Rolling Stone the contents of his Ipod. No doubt he had finished updating the pod shortly before the interview (likely with the help of a campaign advisor or three), but the long and eclectic list of artists is still interesting to look at.
Featuring Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, and The Rolling Stones, most of the contents are as safe and uninteresting as a Coldplay album. But his comments about a particular Bob Dylan song shed some light on Democratic candidate. He cited a strong personal connection to “Maggie’s Farm” off the world-defying record Bringing It All Back Home.
“One of my favorites [for] the political season is ‘Maggie’s Farm’,” Obama reveals. “It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric.”
The farm Dylan’s speaking of is most commonly seen as the southern plantation, apparently named Magee’s Farm ­— though I’ve also seen it referred to as McGee’s — which he was filmed singing protest songs to workers. The first line of the song, he belts out “I don’t want to work on Maggie’s Farm no more.” Basically, the song, with its rollicking blues structure and anti-authority sentiment, announces his abandoning the folk and activist scene in favor of rock ‘n’ roll.
Dylan opened his set at the controversial 1965 Newport Folk Festival with the song, formally notifying the people of the folk world of his departure. As Obama gears up for the big election, does his love of the song mean he too will be abandoning the movement with which he is associated? And if so, where will he be heading? And most importantly, will his reinvention be as totally bad-ass as Dylan’s?
There are two sides of the coin, however. Obama could be abandoning the authority which is trying to shape him (as Dylan undermines the power of Maggie’s family within the song), and will prove to work as a person with not the party’s best interest but of America’s. But he could also be turning his back on the millions of supporters in favor of an individualist, self-interested style of governing.
It comes down to the metaphorical scene in 2007’s I’m Not There, where Dylan (Cate Blanchett) turns to face the Newport crowd and proceeds to let off a barrage of machine gun fire from stage. Who is he going to be shooting and, if he becomes president, who is going to benefit?

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