Joe Biden's pick for secretary of state moonlights as a blues rocker

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Although he’s been reduced to crowdfunding his own presidential transition efforts, President-elect Joe Biden has moved right along with filling out his cabinet. On Sunday night, the New York Times reported that Joe Biden is expected to name Obama’s former Deputy Secretary Of State Antony Blinken as Secretary of State. This news drew its expected share of scrutiny — for Blinken’s role in troubling foreign policy maneuvers and the corporate consulting blob — but there was also the last part of his Twitter bio. “Follow Ablinken on Spotify.”

Once you’ve said it out loud — Ablinken, Abe Lincoln, ah — and run the Spotify search, you’ll find that the incoming Secretary of State is a rocker guy with 53 monthly listeners at the time of writing. With just two tracks under his belt, Ablinken had a brief burst of activity in 2018, but hasn’t followed it up with a full-length record just yet. You have the understated acoustic love ballad “Patience” and “Lip Service,” a straightforward, Eric Clapton-y classic rock jam. It’s exactly the sort of midlife crisis rock that appeals to a certain type of aging movie star with no hobbies left to chase.

But credit Blinken where it’s due, he’s gotten to take the stage with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter — who worked with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers on the early end of their heyday. As more attention came to Blinken’s policies and guitar prowess, Twitter users dug up a vast number of live outings and quick-hit concert reviews. Evidently, he’s a huge Clapton guy, thinks Aimee Mann is the best singer-songwriter of the generation, and keeps his axes in view of the webcam.

The Biden years will be a cultural reset in the obvious ways — funnier comedy, less singular focus on one soggy gravitational life force — but it may just turn back the clock even further than Obama’s insistence on becoming a fixture in celebrity culture. Blinken’s genre aspirations and general taste isn’t a far cry from Mike Huckabee’s bass throwdowns on his own talk show, proving that blues rock hobbyism can be a bipartisan exercise for the powerful. It’s a bit less exhausting to turn the keys back over to this variety of cultural flotsam, as long as it doesn’t translate to the same sort of uncritical malaise toward powerful figures that got us here in the first place.