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He's digging 'Farm'

CAMPAIGN '08: RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE / On the Trail
/ MUSIC NOTES

June 26, 2008|Mark Z. Barabak

For decades, Bob Dylan has kept people guessing about his cryptic lyrics, shifting timbre, assorted guises and spiritual restlessness. Which leads, in a roundabout way, to a recent Rolling Stone interview with Sen. Barack Obama.

The Democratic presidential candidate discusses the music he listened to while growing up -- Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Elton John, the Rolling Stones -- and the music on his iPod -- all of the above plus Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen, Howlin' Wolf, Yo-Yo Ma, Sheryl Crow, the Grateful Dead and others.

But perhaps Obama's most intriguing response came when he was asked to name his favorite Dylan songs.

"Actually, one of my favorites during the political season is 'Maggie's Farm,' " he replied. "It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric."

Dylan famously -- heretically -- performed "Maggie's Farm" at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, when the troubadour turned electric and never turned back. A look at the lyrics raises the question of what, exactly, spoke to Obama.

A sample:

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

Well, I wake in the morning,

Fold my hands and pray for rain.

I got a head full of ideas

That are drivin' me insane.

It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor. . . .

No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.

Well, she talks to all the servants

About man and God and law.

Everybody says

She's the brains behind pa.

She's sixty-eight, but she says she's twenty-four.

I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more. . . .

No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

Well, I try my best

To be just like I am,

But everybody wants you

To be just like them

They sing while you slave and I just get bored

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

--

The Obama camp declined to comment.

-- Mark Z. Barabak

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