By now we’ve heard the summary of President Obama’s biography so many times it’s rarely notable any more, but when you process stories through the brain of Bob Dylan, things always get more interesting.
“He’s like a fictional character, but he’s real,” Dylan told Times Online on his reaction to reading Obama’s autobiography Dreams of My Father. “First off, his mother was a Kansas girl. Never lived in Kansas though, but with deep roots. You know, like Kansas bloody Kansas. John Brown the insurrectionist. Jesse James and Quantrill. Bushwhackers, Guerillas. Wizard of Oz Kansas. I think Barack has Jefferson Davis back there in his ancestry someplace. And then his father. An African intellectual. Bantu, Masai, Griot type heritage – cattle raiders, lion killers. I mean it’s just so incongruous that these two people would meet and fall in love. You kind of get past that though. And then you’re into his story. Like an odyssey except in reverse.” Dylan views the rise to the presidency as a kind of tragic downfall: “Barack is born in Hawaii,” he continued. “Most of us think of Hawaii as paradise – so I guess you could say that he was born in paradise.”
Dylan then talks about how significant the sacrifices of Obama’s mother were to his success and that he seems to be the type of person who would have been successful in any career. But will Obama “make a good president?” the interviewer asked.
“I have no idea,” said Dylan. “He’ll be the best president he can be. Most of those guys come into office with the best of intentions and leave as beaten men. Johnson would be a good example of that … Nixon, Clinton in a way, Truman, all the rest of them going back. You know, it’s like they all fly too close to the sun and get burned.”