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Barack Obama Calls Bob Dylan ‘One of the Greatest Examples’ of Social Consciousness in Music

Billboard logo Billboard 11/19/2020 Glenn Rowley

Barack Obama surprised a pair of YouTube stars on Thursday (Nov. 19) with an impromptu interview about the music that shaped his presidency.

Appearing on twins Fred and Tim Williams’ channel TwinsthenewTrend, the 44th president dished on how Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” earned its place on the playlist for both his presidency and his new memoir, A Promised Land.

“I’ve been a Bob Dylan fan for a long time, partly ’cause I’m just older,” Obama told the twins. “He was part of that kind of social conscience that was in rock music, and then later in hip-hop music. Look, I’m like everybody else, I like music about girls and cars and, you know, rock and roll and hip-hop. But whenever you can find some musicians that really have a message about how America might be, how the world might be, that always is something that I pay attention to. And he’s one of the greatest examples of that.”

During the chat, the former president offered some heartfelt advice to the 22-year-old content creators. “One of the most important things we can do as people, but especially young people, is opening our minds to how other people feel, what their traditions are, trying to make common cause with folks even if they don’t look like us or didn’t come from the same neighborhood,” he said.

“You know, the country’s so divided right now,” Obama continued. “On the internet, a lot of times, everybody’s just mad…Being open to new ideas, new experiences, and reaching out to new traditions, that’s America at its best.”

Watch Obama’s full interview with the TwinsthenewTrend guys — including the president dishing on making mixtapes in the age of cassettes — below.

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