Music and the Campaign Trail

For people who I would assume spend most of their careers reading policy it seems that politicians seem to not be too concerned about the lyrical content of  the artists for which they try to align themselves.

There have been two examples of music misuse in the past week and I included a few others from years past.

Paul Ryan vs. Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The MachinePaul Ryan: In a NY Times feature, Paul cites Rage Against The Machine as one of his favorite bands

Opposing lyric viewpoint: Too many for this small space but here’s a sample from the song “Take The Power Back”

So called facts are fraud
They want us to allege and pledge
And bow down to their God
Lost the culture, the culture lost
Spun our minds and through time
Ignorance has taken over
Yo, we gotta take the power back!

Artist reaction: Paul Frank is the “embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.”


Silversun PickupsMitt Romney vs. Silversun Pickups

Mitt Romney: The song “Panic Switch” is played at a campaign stop

Opposing lyric viewpoint: From the actual song they used:  “The red views/Keep ripping the divide”

Artist reaction: We don’t like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don’t like the Romney campaign


Tom Petty

George W.  Bush vs. Tom Petty

George W. Bush: Uses the song “I Won’t Back Down” at campaign rallies

Opposing lyric viewpoint: From the song “”Flirting With Time”

Shadowmen talk a real good game.
Every punchline has your name.

Artist reaction: Tom Petty issues a cease and desist order and the people in charge of the Bush campaign “back down”.

Sam Moore

Barrack Obama vs. Sam Moore

Barrack Obama: Uses the Sam and Dave classic “Hold On! I’m A Comin'” on the campaign trail.

Opposing lyric viewpoint: In 1996, Sam Moore re-recorded his song “Soul Man” into “Dole Man” for the Bob Dole campaign.

Artist reaction: Sam Moore told Obama to stop using “ Hold On, I’m Comin” at campaign rallies, saying he wasn’t endorsing anybody in the 2008 race.

Bruce SpringsteenRonald Reagan vs. Bruce Springsteen

Ronald Reagan: In the most infamous use of a politician trying to align himself with a musician, Reagan declares on during a New Jersey stump speech in 1984,

America’s future rests in a thousand dreams inside our hearts,” It rests in the message of hope in the songs of a man so many young Americans admire: New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.”

Opposing lyric viewpoint: From “Born In The USA” a song of broken dreams and promises”

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I’m ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run, ain’t got nowhere to go

Artist reaction: “I think there’s a large group of people in this country whose dreams don’t mean that much to [Ronald Reagan], that just get indiscriminately swept aside. I guess my view of America is of  a real big-hearted country, real compassionate.”

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