In June 1986, I turned 16 and traded my learner’s permit for a driver’s license. That summer, filled with new freedoms and responsibilities, I went on my first unsupervised drives and began buying my music on cheap, car-playable cassettes instead of LPs. I drove my friends around hot Houston with the car windows down, blasting recent releases by Depeche Mode (Black Celebration), Prince (Parade) and R.E.M. (Lifes Rich Pageant), and, when the mood struck, Top 40 radio like Madonna, Wham! and Belinda Carlisle.

When Alex Haley set out to write Roots, he spent seven years searching for the name of the ship that brought his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, from Gambia to Annapolis in the 1760s. He traveled to Africa and met with griots—oral storytellers trained to recite the history of their village—who recounted detailed genealogies of the previous two centuries. Corroborating these accounts with British military logs, Haley was able to narrow Kunta’s abduction to 1767, and the ship to the Lord Ligonier, bound for Annapolis in July of that year. It is here that Roots begins.

Satire has long provided relief from the turbulent waters of politics (at least in countries where satire is legal). This is why The Onion has dominated print humor for almost three decades, and why Jon Stewart achieved so much success during those eight long years of President George W. Bush. On HBO’s Veep, Selina Meyer serves as an especially welcome ambassador of this brand of comedy, now that Stewart is in New Jersey rescuing dogs, and the American presidential election fills newsfeeds with satire-ready fodder on the daily.

A black comic paces the stage, microphone in hand, studying his audience. “You white folks up North been voting for a long time,” he begins. “But in the South, we just barely get a chance to vote. You see, down South, if you colored and want to vote, they make you take a test…on nuclear physics…in Russian. Then, if you pass the test, they say, ‘Hey, boy! You can’t vote! Because if you can read in Russian, you must be a Communist!’”

I’ve been a Bob Dylan fan since roughly 1972. I had inherited a copy of Blonde on Blonde from one or other of my older brothers, along with a record player, and I spun all four sides incessantly. I laughed (“Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”), I cheered (“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”), I cried (“Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”), I sang along (every word). Three years later, Blood on the Tracks joined the rotation, followed by Desire in 1976. Those were great years to be a young Dylan fan.