If President Obama really wants to get his groove back with young voters, he might want to get a bit more in synch with their musical tastes and a bit less in line with songs their parents — and grandparents — listened to. He’s got about 2,000 songs on his iPod, but – as he put it – his selections are more weighted to his childhood – his very young childhood – than to much that 20-somethings are listening to today.
“There’s still a lot of Stevie Wonder, a lot of Bob Dylan, a lot of Rolling Stones, a lot of R&B, a lot of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Those are the old standards,” Obama said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine released on Tuesday. He also listens to a lot of classical music. “I’m not a big opera buff in terms of going to opera, but there are days where Maria Callas is exactly what I need,” he said.
The president was born in 1961, which makes him little more than a toddler when some of his favorite artists had their biggest hits, something he and his handlers might want to keep in mind as he tries to connect with young voters and urge them to turn out in force on Nov. 2. The famed diva Callas was born in 1923, and died in 1977, when Obama was 16.
One test of Obama’s appeal was coming on Tuesday night, at a Democratic National Committee event at the University of Wisconsin in Madison that the party hopes will be reminiscent of the triumphant rallies – drawing 20,000, 50,000 and up toward 100,000 people – during the last weeks of his presidential campaign in 2008. Those rallies helped drive Obama into the White House, and party leaders hope some of the same magic will convince the 18-to-28-year-old set to head to the polls – and back Democrats running for the House and Senate.
Obama drew 17,000 to a rally in Madison in 2008. The singer Ben Harper will open for the president on Tuesday, as an extra incentive for the students to turn out. It will become clear within the next few hours whether President Obama’s appeal is akin to Candidate Obama’s.