June 25, 2008

What's in Barack Obama's iPod?

I'm dubious about the manufactured PR that comes in the form of a report about what's in some politician's iPod. But whether these are really the songs the person listens to or not, it's at least a list of what the campaign wants you to think he likes, and that means something. So let's read the report on Obama iPod — his oPod.
• Bob Dylan – "at least 30 tracks", including Maggie's Farm, which is one of Mr Obama's favourites "for the political season... it speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric". In the song, Dylan sings about trying to be himself, "but everybody wants you to be just like them".
Does it speak to his "head full of ideas that are drivin' [him] insane"? Do you believe "Maggie's Farm" is one of his favorites, or do you think they just tried to find a political song that had some appropriate rhetoric? The character in the song is perceiving what's wrong with the farm (the country) and is looking for a change.
• Stevie Wonder – "Stevie had that run with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness' First Finale and Innervisions, and then Songs in the Key of Life. Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we've ever seen."
Can't go wrong with Stevie.
• The cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Uh, better put something classical in there.
• Blues legend, Howlin' Wolf.
Put some blues.
• Bruce Springsteen – "Not only do I love Bruce's music, I just love him as a person". Mr Obama says he has met him, and calls him The Boss.
Unbought and unbossed.... except by The Boss.
• The late-1970s disco outfit Earth, Wind and Fire, famous for Boogie Wonderland and September.
This is the one I'm most likely to believe he really likes, because it's from the era when his tastes were probably formed and it's hard to think of a good reason to fake liking this. So, boogie:


• Rolling Stones, with Mr Obama's favourite track being Gimme Shelter.
The Boomers expect this (or The Beatles).
• Hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Ludacris, although "I am troubled sometimes by the misogyny and materialism of a lot of rap lyrics".
Uh oh. What would John McWhorter say?
• Sheryl Crow, famous for If it Makes you Happy and All I Wanna Do.
This makes me want to vote for John McCain.
• Jazz greats including Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane
Got to put some jazz in there....

What?! No show tunes? No folksingers? ... No country!

39 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

ROFL Oh, he's troubled sometimes by the misogyny and materialism in rap lyrics? Like, perhaps, that in "Southern Hospitality," one of the most iconic Ludacris songs...

Ah
Cadillac grills
Cadillac bills
Check out the oil
My Cadillac spills
Matter of fact
Candy Paint
Cadillac kills
So check out the hoes my Cadillac fills
20 inch wide
20 inch high
Hold on to my 20 inch ride
20 inch thighs make 20 inch eyes
Hoping for American 20 inch pies
Pretty ass clothes
Pretty ass toes
Oh how I love these pretty ass hoes
Pretty ass high class anything goes
Catch them in the club throwing pretty ass 'bows
Long John draws
Long John stalls
Any stank puss
Makes my long John Pause
Women on the cell making long John Calls
And if they like to juggle get long John’s balls

Chorus

All my players in the house that could ride the bar
And the balling ass n****s with the candy cars
If you a pimp and you know you don’t love them hoes
Then when you get on the floor
(N**** throw dem bows!)
All my women in the house if you chasing cash
And you got some big titties with a matchin ass
With your fly ass boots or your open toes
When you get on the floor
(N**** hold them hoes)...


The song is well performed, but I think it might have been one to leave off the PR list.

Ron said...

What would we believe if he said Snoop and Dre and NWA? Could a Democrat admit to liking the Dead Kennedys?

I mistrust the safe on top of safe...and his selection even makes me like those artists less for the same reason!

bearbee said...

How 'bout this

George said...

Where's the Jerry? Where's the Ratdog? What? No Phil Lesh and Friends!?

To digress, I saw R.E.M. a few weeks ago. I don't think I've ever seen a front man as obnoxious as Michael Stipe. He called Bush "horrendous" "disgraceful" and other stuff. Downer. When the band played the Garden, even the NY Times review reported how over-the-top he was. It was a bummer.

Meade said...

"This makes me want to vote for John McCain."

This made me laugh, as Chip would say, aloud.

Freeman Hunt said...

This made me laugh, as Chip would say, aloud.

Same here.

And as long as I'm commenting again, I think my earlier ROFL was too strong as I was not actually rolling around on the ground laughing. It was more of a COL, chuckling out loud, moment.

baldilocks said...

Hi Ann,

Re: Earth, Wind and Fire

One disco song does not a disco outfit make. EWF was/is primarily a critically lauded R&B/Funk band.

Palladian said...

God, Yo Yo Ma is such a pedestrian choice. Whenever politicians claim to listen to "classical" music it's always presented as if it's akin to a bitter herbal supplement, like the obligatory limp, soggy vegetables cringing next to the steak. I'd love it someday if a politician said: "Oh, classical music? Well, I like Haydn and feel compelled to listen to early Beethoven but I'm not terribly interested in the classical period. If, by "classical" you mean instrumental music generally, then my iPod is full of it. Have you heard Manze and Egarr's recording of Biber's "Rosary" Sonatas? A much more interesting Austrian than Mozart!"

Outis said...

Could a Democrat admit to liking the Dead Kennedys?

Just say you're a fan of Jello Biafra and let the truly curious look up the connection.

veni vidi vici said...

I'd love to see one of these packaged politicians admit to having something cool like Glimmer of Dope's "Love Lost" on their iPod... As they are, these iPod lists are never believable; no one is that saccharine, are they? Why is it that they have on their iPods the same tracks that are in the heavy rotation playlists at most mainstream radio stations? I don't buy any of it.

P. Rich said...

"What's in Barack Obama's iPod?"

All the Rev. Wright CDs, of course - for inspiration. And a warm, fuzzy translation of Das Kapital done originally by Rosie O'Donnell for the 2004 Democratic Convention.

Donna B. said...

If I had an iPod and therefore had something in it, it would be mostly Rolling Stones, 'old' country, a little bluegrass, bawdy blues, and some classical -- maybe even a yoyoma or two. Some of his work is fine.

George said...

War, children, it's just a shot away.

Yuri Andropov loved Chubby Checker, Glenn Miller, Sinatra, jazz, and abstract art.

Edward Jay Epstein article on the KGB's disinformation scam that fooled Time, the WaPo, WSJ.....

The truth was no one knew anything about him.

PB Friedman said...

Maggie's Farm makes perfect sense -- it's the song Dylan premiered when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival, provoking rage among the oh-so-uptight and politically correct folkies and declaring his independence in sound and words from their narrow-minded orthodoxies.

TerriW said...

Can't go wrong with Stevie.


Unless, of course, "I just called ... to say ... I love you!" But I think the movie High Fidelity already thoroughly covered that issue.

Palladian said...

Also on Obama's iPod:

The Smiths "Unloveable"

I wear black on the outside
Because black is how I feel on the inside.

And if I seem a little strange
Well, that's because I am

But I know that you would like me...
If only you could see me...
If only you would meet me...

XWL said...

This list is incomplete, I still have about 300 cds waiting to be ripped (been re-ripping everything in a higher bitrate now that hard drives are so damn huge), but since it seems to be a part of campaigning for office nowadays, thought I'd go ahead and make a full disclosure as to what's on my digital music player (in preparation for my 2016 campaign, you'll have to wait a few years for my tax records, though).

Having an 'all you can eat' subscription service tied with your MP3 player (ZunePass, in my case) really kicks a lot of ass, though. I wouldn't have half of the more recent albums if I had to buy each CD or download. And yes, all the CDs listed were legally rented, purchased, or ripped from CDs I own which everyone but the music executives consider to be fair use. Guess I'm an old fart in that regard, I doubt most people under 30 with any sort of collection of albums on their hard drive/mp3 player bought, or rented, all of them legally.

XWL said...

As far as Obama's carefully parsed list goes, go ahead and get some flunky to type up the whole list and put it out as a Google Docs, if I can do that (sans flunky), I think The Obama can, too.

Here's a photo of The Obama's "oPod" should anyone want to bask in its reflected glory.

(personally, I think the Zune is a far better product and service bundle, but that's just me)

Albatross said...

I agree with Palladian. The inclusion of Yo-Yo Ma is nothing more than an obligatory nod to classical music lovers.

As an afficianado, I load my MP3 player with pieces and works that I like, not with performing artists. A crappy cello piece played by Ma or anyone else is still a crappy cello piece, but Dvorak's Rondo for Cello and Piano in g minor is delightful even if played by an unknown.

Something tells me Obama wouldn't know the difference.

blake said...

"Can't go wrong with Stevie."

Unless, of course, "I just called ... to say ... I love you!"


[kaff]

Dunno much about Stevie, but I do know this priceless bit of poetry:

Don't drive drunk
Don't drive drunk
Don't drive drunk
Mothers against drunk drivers are MADD


And this long after MADD had turned from a reasonably good outfit trying to raise awareness of a serious problem to a bunch of temperance scolds.

Joan said...

A crappy cello piece played by Ma or anyone else is still a crappy cello piece, but Dvorak's Rondo for Cello and Piano in g minor is delightful even if played by an unknown.

If the "unknown" is talented and backed by a talented orchestra, maybe, but you can't seriously be arguing that any classical performance of a great piece is comparable to another. Never mind the soloists, the conductor can make or break a recording.

matthew said...

freeman, Don't think Ludacris only thinks about hoes. He's also concerned about federal tax policy, as can be seen in his song "Hoe"

Your Hoes are hoe-rible, hoe-rendous
On taxes ya'll writin' off Hoes as dependents


Also, you can go wrong with Stevie. Pretty much pick up anything he's done in the past decade or so. Man was the guy brilliant. But duets with the Boy Band 98 degrees for a so-so Disney song do not really do anything but taint that memory.

dave™© said...

"The late-1970s disco outfit Earth, Wind and Fire, famous for Boogie Wonderland and September."

This is the one I'm most likely to believe he really likes, because he's a nigger.


Fixed your typo...

Beth said...

If the "unknown" is talented and backed by a talented orchestra, maybe, but you can't seriously be arguing that any classical performance of a great piece is comparable to another.

Joan, it's a snob thing. Yo-Yo Ma is popular, so the discerning music curmudgeon can't be caught dead enjoying his Bach cello suites or collaboration with other talented but alas, popular, people on Appalachian Journey. The unwashed masses just don't know bad music when they hear it.

Beth said...

I'm going to give Obama credit and assume he loves "Gimme Shelter" for Merry Clayton's amazing backup vocal.

Joan said...

Beth, I'm sure you're right about the snob thing, but there's a reason (a good one) why Ma is so popular, and all the classical music fans I know will cheerfully debate conductors & performers at infinite length if left unchecked. (I get more than enough ribbing for my love of Mahler, which I partly defend by offering Bernstein's recordings with the NY Philharmonic, which beat the pants off every other version I've heard. It's so subjective, but at least I can articulate why I like the Bernstein versions more...)

As for the O-pod, I don't believe a word of this article. It's completely manufactured. When does he listen to music? I listen when I'm working in the kitchen, out in the yard, or doing schoolwork -- but what I'm working on will dictate what I'm listening to... Obama doesn't strike me as having much kick-back-and-relax time these days, and the type of work he's doing is the kind that precludes actively listening to music (IMO). It's just another marketing effort.

Sheepman said...

Do you believe "Maggie's Farm" is one of his favorites, or do you think they just tried to find a political song that had some appropriate rhetoric?
For me "Maggie's Farm" is more of an amusing song than a political song. I can see Barry listening to this song in a quiet moment and chuckling at all the absurdity that is swirling around him.

Perhaps in office he could listen to this:
Well, the last thing I remember before I stripped and kneeled
Was that trainload of fools bogged down in a magnetic field.
A gypsy with a broken flag and a flashing ring
Said, "Son, this ain't a dream no more, it's the real thing."

Trevor Jackson said...

Not a bad library, XWL. Safe to say you're a fan of the right Elvis. You really should pick up The Raconteurs first record. It's better than Consolers. Also think the entry "Ant, Adam" is hilarious.

Curious about why you think the Zune is a better device than the iPod.

El Presidente said...

Outis,

Remember what we did to Jello Biafra? Oh my, the Obama campaign had trouble with the Seal, what would they do with 'Landscape 20' (Don't google that while at work).

This whole thing is so much horseshizzle. Does the Obama campaign have a IPod consultant?

You can bet that the Clintons would have polled before an article like this.

Did George W take the Dixie Chicks off of his IPod?

Stay classy Dave.

jackson said...

This is a racist blog. Althouse is on prozac:)

XWL said...

Curious about why you think the Zune is a better device than the iPod.

The first big reason is the ZunePass. For $15.00 a month I get access to millions of songs that I can download, play on my Zune, and can send to my living room through a media extender like the XBOX360.

The screen is slightly larger with the Zune (3.2" compared to 2.5"), and I like wireless syncing.

Also, I like the software alot better, I find iTunes clunky, and since they've improved it, Zune's software is one of the better ones on the market.

But if it weren't for the subscription music service, I probably would have gone with an Apple given the much larger array of peripherals, if Apple ever felt their market share dipping, maybe they'd come up with something similar. Given their dominance of that market segment, they don't have to.

Trevor Jackson said...

Thanks, XWL. I hadn't heard of ZunePass. So, unlimited downloads? Crazy. I subscribe to emusic. For $20, I get 90 downloads/mo in mp3 form w/no DRM. Catalog is pretty limited to independent/small labels. I wonder if I could get a ZunePass and still use my iPod. Probably not.

My main problem with iTunes is being unable to make playlists within playlists. I'm constantly scrolling through dozens to find the one I want, when I should be able to categorize them under larger headings.

Freeman Hunt said...

I doubt most people under 30 with any sort of collection of albums on their hard drive/mp3 player bought, or rented, all of them legally.

Under 30 here, not an illegal download anywhere on my hard drive. I am adamantly anti-piracy.

Trevor Jackson said...

Freeman, that's laudable. Do you rip CD's you bought onto your hard drive? The RIAA claims this is also piracy.

XWL said...

Under 30 here, not an illegal download anywhere on my hard drive. I am adamantly anti-piracy.

I don't know you, but I've read your comments, and your blog, and I think it's safe to say that you aren't "most people".

(which is meant as a compliment)

This article would suggest that amongst college aged folk, downloading is common, and not seen as something that harms artists (only those big evil record companies). That particular survey didn't ask if those same students are downloading tracks illegally themselves, but if they are making moral justifications for the act (it's bad for corporations, good for the artists), then I'm guessing they also engage in that activity.

And as Trevor points out, even the act of ripping your own store-bought CD onto your hard drive doesn't fall under fair use if the lawyers at the RIAA are to be believed (though that hasn't ever been seriously tested in court, and if it were, would be thrown out as being ridiculous, I suspect).

Albatross said...

For Joan and Beth:

Yo-Yo Ma is an incredible cellist, but he would be nothing without great music to play. That music comes from composers (as far as I know, Yo-Yo Ma doesn't compose), and that is where the ulitmate genius is in "classical music."

So, for what it is worth, I consider the choice of composer and piece to be far more important than what ensemble or soloist is performing it. By extension, I would be more impressed with a politician that refers to classical music by specific works rather than by popular performers.

Therefore, I'm not impressed with Obama's playlist. As said before, his citation of Yo-Yo Ma is just an obligatory nod to classical music lovers.

blake said...

Indeed, can't we agree that Yo-Yo Ma is both great and a hack choice? Heh.

The first big reason is the ZunePass. For $15.00 a month I get access to millions of songs that I can download, play on my Zune, and can send to my living room through a media extender like the XBOX360.

Right up until Microsoft loses interest or says otherwise. "PlaysForSure" anyone?

No Digital Rights Management for me, thanks!

Beth said...

I don't know why this took days to shake loose from my brain:

Albatross: "By extension, I would be more impressed with a politician that refers to classical music by specific works rather than by popular performers."

On re-reading the article that inspired this blog post, it's clear that they're looking at Obama's Artist list, and taking that as the starting point for the interview. Ipods organize by artist, album and song by default (or sort by genre, or create playlists in iTunes, but on the top level, it's Artists, etc.), and that's the structure of this little human interest story.

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