I admit, it’s been hard for me to write about music the last few weeks because I’ve turned into a total campaign coverage zombie. So my apologies for dipping into the political on a music blog, but I feel compelled to share a moment from an article by Matt Bai from the forthcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine, in which he describes a rally in rural southwestern Virginia in which bluegrass great Ralph Stanley endorses Barack Obama for President. This is sort of surprising in itself. Stanley has always struck me as a sort of populist folk-hero whose music, while certainly having a social and cultural point of view, seemed to exist outside of vulgar politics. (Springsteen modeled himself this way for most of his career – never publicly supporting a presidential candidate until Kerry’s run in 2004. He also publicly supports Obama this year.) But endorsement aside, the best line of the article came after Obama thanked Stanley for his support:

“When the candidate met Stanley backstage, Obama told him that he had some of Stanley’s banjo music on his iPod. Stanley nodded appreciatively, but a few minutes later he turned to a friend and asked, ‘What’s an iPod?'”