Rolling Stone magazine May 2012

President Obama’s Rolling Stone Interview Covers What He’s Watching, Reading—and Singing

Rolling Stone Obama coverSure, the President talks today’s major issues, but he also shares how he unwinds from the stresses of the job–sort of–when it comes to television, movies, magazines and music.

The cover story of Rolling Stone magazine’s latest issue is about none other than the leader of the free world. But in his fourth—and longest interview—with the publication, President Barack Obama goes beyond just stumping for the November election.

In the extensive eight-page interview, he shares in his own words (it’s presented in Q&A format) his insight into what it’s like to hold the highest—and maybe most criticized—office in the land.

As might be expected, he also addresses a number of hot-button issues, like the fallout of the Occupy Wall Street movement, unrest in the Middle East, the war on drugs, the sluggish economy, marriage equality, climate change, and on and on.

But the unexpected gems of the Rolling Stone article come with the snippets he slips in about his personal media and entertainment preferences. Though important, we’ll hear about the issues ad nauseum between now and November, so let’s focus on what the President’s really like beyond the Oval Office and Air Force One.

TV Show: “Homeland,” a series based on terrorist threats to the United States by one of its own, a Marine taken prisoner by Al-Qaeda and then turned against his country, may sound a lot like work, but that’s why the President enjoys the complicated situations and characters it features. “It’s a terrific psychological study, and that’s what I enjoy about it,” he tells the magazine.

Movie: The last flick the President took in was The Descendants, the Oscar winner for screenplay adaptation starring George Clooney. The film traces a family’s journey of reconnection, redemption and forgiveness, but for Obama, it’s all about home. Shot mainly in Hawaii—the backdrop for his childhood—Obama praised the film in his interview for capturing the parts of the state “that’s not just rainbows and sunsets.”

The News: Staying on top of the news means quality over quantity when you’re pressed for time. So the President’s is spent reading the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. He turns to magazines like The Atlantic and prefers Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” to most  TV news. Stewart’s show provides a critical—but no-nonsense—digest of what’s going on, giving it more credibility than conventional programs, Obama says in the article.

Music: We already know the President might unwind with a little song, after the clip of his impromptu crooning of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” on the Apollo Theater stage made its rounds. But now that’s translated into an everyday thing—or at least request. “Everywhere I go now, somebody wants me to sing,” he tells Rolling Stone. More recently, he obliged B.B. King by jamming with the blues legend at the White House.