Saturday, September 6, 2008

The identities of the dog and the butterfly depend upon your political persuasion

In an effort to connect with potential voters, politicians often adopt popular songs as theme songs for their campaign.

Sometimes the musicians are flattered - witness Fleetwood Mac, Bill Clinton, and "Don't Stop."

Sometimes they're not so pleased. The latest mad musicians are the Wilson sisters:

Rock group Heart is furious with John McCain for bucking a request to stop playing their 1977 hit, "Barracuda," and is puzzled by the use of a song about "soulless" executives as the theme for his running mate, Sarah Palin.

This actually illustrates part of the problem. Often a politician will go for the hook of the song, and completely ignore the song's contents. Take Ronald Reagan, who listened to the chorus of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," but not the verses. Springsteen observed:

I think people have a need to feel good about the country they live in. But what's happening, I think, is that that need -- which is a good thing -- is getting manipulated and exploited. You see in the Reagan election ads on TV, you know, 'It's morning in America,' and you say, 'Well, it's not morning in Pittsburgh.'

Springsteen voiced fewer objections when Barack Obama used the song:

A generation after Ronald Reagan famously mistook Bruce Springsteen's music for uncritical patriotism, Democrats claimed "Born in the USA" on Thursday for the theme it was meant to project — to describe a splintered country they say desperately needs new policies and new dreams.

Delegates danced, cheered and waved flags Thursday night as Springsteen's arena-rock anthem brought the final evening of the Democratic National Convention to life. It was a significant moment — and a sign that, unlike in Reagan's 1984 campaign, the Democrats are exhibiting savvy about their use of music in political settings.

Springsteen's reaction illustrates another part of the problem - namely, the lack of diversity of the music industry. Specifically, the music industry is guilty of discrimination because of its failure to employ people of conservative tastes. PopEater, however, pointed out a few options:

Right-leaning pop musicians can be hard to come by, leaving few safe choices for Republicans on the campaign trail. Political Machine pointed out a few GOP-friendly stars whose songs could possibly be cued up without objection: Donny Osmond, Ted Nugent, Gene Simmons, Kid Rock and Wayne Newton.

You know, I think McCain could get good use out of the song "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast."
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