In the early 1970s, Bob Dylan met future president Jimmy Carter at the governor’s mansion in Georgia. Carter was a fan of Dylan, a fact that he was not afraid to share when he met the musician. Instead of being flattered, though, Dylan was puzzled. For the first time, he realized that the “establishment” liked his music by him and was not sure how to feel about it.
The former president loved music
Throughout his political career, Carter was open about being a fan of music.
“When we had no money at all, dad spent $600 on the best stereo in Plains … and he would let us children play our music on it,” his son Chip said, per CNN. “And he would stay in there and learn the songs… It’s one of the ways that he stayed in touch with his children.”
While running for president, he received a crucial endorsement from the Allman Brothers, and other musicians soon offered support.
“I was practically a nonentity, but everybody knew the Allman Brothers, particularly the ones that came to their concerts,” Carter said. “And, when the Allman Brothers endorsed me all the young people there said, ‘Well, if the Allman Brothers like Jimmy Carter we can vote for him.’”
Carter was a fan of Dylan and quoted the musician in his 1976 presidential acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“I’ve never had more faith in America than I do today,” he said. “We have an America that, in Bob Dylan’s phrase, is busy being born, not busy dying.”
Bob Dylan was surprised to learn that Jimmy Carter liked his music
Before his run for the presidency, Carter was the governor of Georgia. When Dylan played a show in Atlanta, Carter invited him to the governor’s mansion. His open appreciation for Dylan’s music made the musician slightly uncomfortable.
“When I first met Jimmy, the first thing he did was quote my songs back to me,” Dylan said, per usa today. “It was the first time that I realized that my songs had reached into the establishment world. And I had no experience in that realm; I had never seen that side, so it made me a little uneasy.”
Eventually, though, Carter’s earnest appreciation of his music helped Dylan relax.
“He put my mind at ease by not talking down to me and showing me that he had a sincere appreciation for the songs I had written,” Dylan said. “He was a kindred spirit to me of a rare kind. He the kind of man you do n’t meet every day and you’re lucky to if you ever do.”
Bob Dylan and Jimmy Carter bonded over religion
Carter said he considers Dylan one of his best friends. When Dylan visited the governor’s mansion, the two men bonded during a discussion about religion.
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“Bob Dylan’s band performed in Atlanta when I was governor, so I invited Bob Dylan and his band to the governor’s mansion,” Carter said, per The Daily Beast. “And my sons were very eager to be with the band, and I was honored because Bob Dylan asked me to go out in the garden, as a matter of fact, and have a conversation with him. The only questions he asked me were questions about my Christian faith, and what it meant to me. Basically the principles of it.”
This conversation occurred several years before Dylan announced his conversion to Christianity.