With President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill all sitting front-row center at the White House’s relatively intimate East Room, Bob Dylan took the stage at the first “In Performance at the White House” concert of 2010, which was themed “A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement.”
Whereas gospel singer Yolanda Adams changed the tense in a few lyrics to Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” by singing “a change has come” as a shout-out to President Obama’s ‘08 campaign slogan, Dylan’s lyrics to “The Times They Are A-Changin’” didn’t need any, uh, a-changin’. Accompanied by stand-up bass and piano, Dylan sang his 1964 anthem loud and clear, highlighting the song’s many apropos lyrical moments (“Come senators, congressmen / Please heed the call / Don’t stand in the doorway / Don’t block up the hall”).
His former musical/romantic/protest partner Joan Baez also performed, though the pair did not sing a duet as we had hoped. Baez sang protest classic “We Shall Overcome” with a little help from the crowd for the refrain.
As previously reported, this program will still be broadcast on PBS Thursday night at 8pm EST (I luckily caught the stream online tonight after the live show was rescheduled due to an upcoming snowstorm), as well as on NPR for at least the remainder of the month. **Update: Audio of the performance can be heard here.