Barack Obama Reveals Story of Bob Dylan’s Performance at White House: ‘Just Mysterious’

Former President Barack Obama said he got the Bob Dylan interaction he’d always wanted when the two met for a White House performance some years ago.

Obama was on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote his new memoir A Promised Land when the topic came up. Fallon asked Obama what Dylan was like. Bob Dylan has a history of strange and what can be perceived as aloof behavior.

“He was Dylan-esque,” Obama said. “He’s exactly as you want Dylan to be.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning singer came to the White House to take part in a workshop, Obama said. Usually, the performers would show up and teach a class on songwriting or performing or composition. But not Dylan.

Dylan showed up only a few minutes before the show, played a three-minute rendition of The Times They Are A-Changin’ took his bows, and then left, Obama said.

The Obamas loved it.

“It’s mysterious. Has a little quirky smile on his face,” Obama told Fallon. “That’s what you want from Bob Dylan. You don’t want him to be all chatty and eating off the cheese plate and all that stuff. It would disappoint you.”

Bob Dylan Has a Lifetime of Strange Behavior

Bob Dylan has been a musical and lyrical icon for nearly 60 years. So, it’s easy to see how he may lose touch with normal, everyday life. That being said, there is still an absurd amount of strange encounters with the troubadour throughout the years.

In 2007, parents at a posh school in Calabasas, California, complained to their parents about the “weird man” who kept turning up at school to sing “scary” songs to them. It turned out to be Dylan, who was there because his grandson attended there, Page Six reported. The catch? No one asked him to turn up, guitar in hand, and serenade the kids. He just wanted to be a good grandpa.

And while he was willing to show up and perform for a kindergarten class that wasn’t expecting it, he refused to show up to accept his Nobel Prize in 2016. In fact, The Atlantic reported at the time, he didn’t respond to the news he had been awarded the prize for weeks. After a long back-and-forth between organizers and the enigmatic performer, Dylan finally agreed to accept the award in a private ceremony without the press and only a handful of people in attendance.

Vulture has compiled some of the more interesting stories from over the years.