So, however rude and annoying Obama got in his repeated insistence that
he would not dislodge the earbuds from his senatorial ears, I felt the
strong urge to make him comfortable, happy, and part of the party.
"Tell me what kind of music you like." I said, "Maybe we have a CD
you'd prefer to the one that's playing." Obama obliged, listing six or
eight band names I'd never heard of. If only I could recall some of
them, but all I can say is that 1. they sounded like indie rock bands
and 2. they were totally unknown to me. I felt foiled.
Then I got another idea. "Let me listen to a couple of songs on your iPod, and I'll see if I have some music that I think
you would like, based on what you're listening to." Reluctantly, Obama
obliged, handing his earbuds over to me. At this point a surreal,
only-in-your-dreams moment occurred and I realized that Obama's iPod
was somehow connected to a heavy cable that trailed off into the other
room, which made it awkward to manipulate. I managed to get the earbuds
in and, to my great astonishment, I recognized the song that was
playing. Quite improbably, it was "Race for the Prize," the first track
off the Flaming Lips' CD The Soft Bulletin. I got inordinately
excited, all of the frustration and anxiety that had built up over
Obama's musical intransigence and my inability to please him melting
away in a wash of excitement. "The Flaming Lips! We listen to that
band! We have this CD!" As I disentangled myself from Obama's iPod and rushed off to put The Soft Bulletin on the CD player, my dream melted into some other scene…
[…] Barack Obama said his last purchase was "probably" "Ray," the score
from the Oscar-winning movie on the life of R&B crooner Ray Charles. […]
At first listen, the Indigo Girls
don't make any sense, not for the hyper-macho world of a presidential
campaign, much less a summertime rally for a superstar like Barack Obama.
But his sound people are piping in the feminist folk duo's music anyway
to pump up a crowd of hundreds at this small-town coffee shop on the
Fourth of July. They play "Hammer and a Nail," a 1990 declaration of
female empowerment and emancipation. "You've got to tend the earth,"
the Girls sing, "if you want a rose."
Then Obama comes out, looking lithe and dashing, with his
6-year-old daughter, Sasha, in his arms. The soundtrack starts to make
sense. "I'm a sucker for girls," says the man who wants to be president.
"There is nothing more difficult than me being on the phone hearing
about their soccer game, hearing about what happened to them in school
and knowing that I am not there in the evenings to share a lot of their
life." He turns to his wife, Michelle, who is sitting nearby on a
stool. "She is smarter," he says. "She is tougher." […]
[…] "I'm old school, so generally, generally, I'm more of a jazz
guy, a Miles Davis, a John Coltrane guy, more of a Marvin Gaye, Stevie
Wonder kind of guy," Obama said in the interview. "But having said
that, I'm current enough that on my iPod I've got a little bit of
Jay-Z. I've got a little Beyonce." […]
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"Barack Obama gets name-dropped in hip-hop,"
August 17, 2007
"You've been in a room once in a while with a rock star. He walks into
the world, and he takes your breath away. I'd love him to be president,
quite honestly. […]"
[…] Rock stars may hide behind all sorts of masks — be it makeup, a
thuggish image or an alter ego named Sasha — but when they perform,
the best of them give the audience the sense that it's witnessing a
very real part of their personality.
There's something charmingly old school about the notion of a rock
star, a larger than life character that at once seems untouchable but
also like an intimate friend. The Internet can't make a rock star — at
least not yet. Sites like YouTube
celebrate accessibility and the notion that everyone should be equally
seen and heard. Rock stars still benefit from the quaint notion that
they are more subversive, more audacious, more fearless, more sensitive
than everyone else. They speak truth to power. They speak for the
disenfranchised. They are poets. It doesn't matter that some of the
biggest stars are akin to private corporations with all the
hierarchies, for-profit motives and mainstream popularity that implies.
The myth of the rock star endures. And at some point, everyone turns into a groupie.