Commie Pinko Musicians Hate Republicans!

Fox News takes its latest persecution complex out for a spin, complaining about famous rock stars who refuse to let Republican politicians use their songs at campaign rallies without permission. It’s all because they’re dirty commies, of course.

Earlier this year, Republican hopeful Michele Bachmann was issued a “cease and desist” letter from rocker Tom Petty’s music publisher insisting that she stop playing his “American Girl” at campaign events. The Foo Fighters and John Mellencamp asked John McCain to stop playing their hits during his presidential run in 2008, and McCain settled out-of-court with Jackson Browne last year after the singer-songwriter sued McCain and the Ohio and national Republican committees, accusing them of using his song “Running on Empty” without his permission.

John Hall, a member of the band Orleans, was not happy when George W. Bush played “Still the One” at an event in 2004. The former President was also rebuffed by Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and Sting during his presidential runs for making use of their tracks. And way back in 1984, Bruce Springsteen was unhappy when Ronald Reagan used his hit “Born in the USA.”

Then there was the Iser’s case involving Charlie Crist. After the Republican’s failed 2010 run for U.S. Senate, the former Florida Governor was slapped with an $1 million lawsuit by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne over the use of his song “Road to Nowhere” in an online campaign video. The suit too was settled out-of-court, and Crist issued a public apology to Byrne via YouTube.

On the other hand, Bill Clinton used Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” in his successful 1992 presidential bid, Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry played Springsteen’s “No Surrender” in his 2004 campaign, in 2008 Sen. Barack Obama revived Springsteen’s “The Rising,” and that same year fellow Democrat John Edwards used Mellancamp’s “Our Country.” All of these came and went without objection from the artists. In fact, except for 2008, when Barack Obama was sent a “cease and desist” letter from the legal team for Sam Moore (one half of the legendary duo Sam & Dave) over the unlicensed use of “Hold On, I’m Comin’” as background beat at his rallies, its hard to find examples of Democrats getting taken to task.

So why do Democrats seem to get more free passes then Republicans?

“Musicians are part of the entertainment industry which is mostly anti-Republican. So lefty performers hate having conservatives use their music,” says Vice President of the Business & Media Institute and political commentator, Dan Gainor. “There’s definitely a PR component to complaining about politicians using your music. If you have a hardcore lefty base of listeners and you bash Michele Bachmann, then you score points. Imagine if a liberal tried to use Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue.’ Keith and his fans would rightly be upset. But that never happens since liberals don’t like images of the flag.”

He’s probably right. Artists tend to be much more liberal than the average person. But who gives a crap? Newt Gingrich is really smart about this, by the way. He’s using Eye of the Tiger as his theme song. Because you know damn well that Survivor isn’t going to complain about anyone using their song for any reason.


  1. gshelley says

    lefty performers hate having conservatives use their music, There’s definitely a PR component to complaining about politicians using your music. If you have a hardcore lefty base of listeners and you bash Michele Bachmann, then you score points.

    How to take a sensible point and make yourself sound like an idiot for expressing it.
    Though the idea that musicians choose who they want to use their music based on what they perceive to be the views of their fans, rather than on having any political opinions themselves is a little silly.

  2. dingojack says

    Do we know if the Democratic Party nominees/Presidents actually paid a licensing fee to the artists involved? And if they didn’t wouldn’t it be up to the artist themselves (or their management/Agent/Record Company etc.) to recover the money, not right-wing media mouthpeices?
    And here was me thinking those Republicans liked protecting industries, employers and the hard-working entrepreneurs by letting them do what they know best, their own business.
    Guess they only protect them by stealing from them, what a surprise!

  3. John Hinkle says

    Well, knowing Newt, he’ll probably figure out a way to invoice his campaign for using Eye of the Tiger.

  4. lordshipmayhem says

    Faux News: “They won’t let the Republicans pirate their songs!”

    What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  5. says

    From the article: “Attorney Larry Iser is taking credit for Romney’s ask first, use song later approach.”

    This is what passes for brilliant legal insight among republican campaign lawyers? This insight is newsworthy?

  6. exdrone says

    Given the Republicans’ sense of self-entitlement, have they considered invoking eminent domain?

  7. imrryr says

    Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue.’:

    Hey, Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
    And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
    And the eagle will fly and it’s gonna be hell,
    When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell.
    And it’ll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you.
    Ah, brought to you, courtesy of the red, white and blue.

    Fuck is that terrible…

    Imagine if a liberal tried to use Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue.’ Keith and his fans would rightly be upset.

    And the liberal’s fans would laugh him/her out of town for using such a shitty song.

  8. AsqJames says

    Well they do say the devil has all the best tunes (although I hear heaven has the best choreographers).

  9. baldape says

    Assuming that a royalty is paid, though, does the artist get to say how the song is used? I mean if they pay BMI or whomever, does the artist have some kind of veto power?

    Could they, for instance, prevent a radio station with a homophobic/racist/Holocaust-denying disk jockey form playing their song?

  10. raven42 says

    Do politicians really not understand that you normally get permission to use copyrighted songs? I mean, that should be a given even before political affiliations come into the picture.

  11. D. C. Sessions says

    Of course, it’s just remotely possible that those commies have a bit more respect for the law and the rights of people who, you know, work to make the music in question.

  12. gshevlin says

    The answer of the question as to whether the artist has control over the usage of the song is ….it depends. Many artists do not have control over how their songs are used, especially older songs from the 1960’s and 1970’s, because the performance and publishing rights were never theirs to begin with. A sad example is Brian Wilson, whose late father sold his songs and their publishing company (Sea Of Tunes) from under him. Another songwriter and performer, John Fogerty, does not have control over how Creedence Clearwater Revival songs are used, the rights to the songs belonged to his former label Fantasy Records, who he left acrimoniously in the 1970’s. However, he was successful in getting Levi’s to stop using the first two lines of “Fortunate Son” in their advertising campaigns, by appealing to them and pointing out that the song, far from glorifying the flag, is an evisceration of rich families enabling draft-dodging for their sons.
    I find it amusing hypocritical and ironic that the party that pretends to be for “the rule of law” quite cheerfully violates the law as it pertains to use of copyrighted material and intellectual property when it suits them. That is leaving aside the reality that in a way their ripping-off of artists is a subtle compliment; it demonstrates that there are next to no worthwhile tunes written by authoritarians.

  13. tfors says

    I wonder how they’d feel if there was legislation called the Stop Campaign Piracy Act which would force the immediate suspension of their campaign upon receiving a complaint of unlicensed use from an artist without even having to go to court.

  14. harold says

    I have no particular interest in Toby Keith, but his political statements are not particularly right wing, certainly not by Republican standards.

    “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” is not defensible but was written before the invasion of Iraq, and does not refer to it, but rather, to hypothetical action against those who actually were involved in the WTC attack of 2001. The WTC attack was a very successful act of terrorism – it terrorized many decent people I know into being irrational.

    There are a fair number of musicians and actors who have genuine hard core right wing beliefs, or in some cases, seem to think that they do despite other statements and actions which are inconsistent. There is a preponderance of has-beens who were popular for crap during the eighties within this group, for example, the despicable Scott Baio. However, some talented figures, such as Robert Duvall, support the current Republican party.

  15. harold says

    Related –

    I don’t have a statistical study, nor would that be easy to accomplish, but I have noted what seems to be a very strong relationship, among actors, between severe substance abuse problems and later claims to be conservative. Examples include Robert Duvall, the late Dennis Hopper, Mary Tyler Moore, and Gary Oldman.

  16. Nemo says

    Well, Kelly Clarkson endorsed Ron Paul, so at least there’s that.

    Actually reading her defending her endorsement feels a lot like reading Neil Young defending his endorsement of Ronald Reagan. But at least he recovered enough to write “Rockin’ in the Free World”.

  17. organon says

    It’s shocking that they are so clueless on why this would be. They are clueless on the depth of indecency they show by using these songs. They would see no conflict in Santorum using Elton John songs to boost his appeal. They would have no problem in using a popular song from a muslim band to boost their votes to work toward an anti-muslim america. It’s a very strange ethics they practice. Or should I say a selective ethics devoid of reason. As a musician, not that they would want to use one of my songs as there’s no popular appeal, but if in that position I would find it incredibly offensive. Ever notice how rare it is for a musician to have issue with diversity? How offensive musicians find racism to be? Is it unreasonable to find extremely offensive a racist wanting to use their song to win a position where they can forward a racist agenda? I seem to remember reading that the war on drugs (although I don’t think it was called that yet) was started by Nixon partly as an excuse to go after musicians for holding ideas he wanted to silence. It didn’t matter if the musician actually used drugs, as the public already had a conception of musicians. Simply accuse, arrest, and let the public take care of the rest (in trial) through ignorance. How has the republican record been on freedom of expression? How much effort have they vested not only in censoring, but even in trying to oppose various forms of music even being able to exist. Republicans and musicians are about as unalike as is possible. Republicans hate rock musicians and everything they stand for. But because those bands have popular appeal, they feel they should have equal access. That musicians have no right to their work. That their work is for the public good as defined by republicans. Musicians should accept being socialized. Since it applies to objectionables, it isn’t socialism. Musicians should accept massive government intervention proposed and pursued by a party claiming to be opposed to government intervention. This topic hits a serious emotional hot button, so I’m probably not articulating much of it very well. If there were popular jewish musicians and artists, perhaps hitler would have wanted to use them in a campaign to win popularity. The unadulterated indecency of it is completely lost on the republican party. And they see themselves victimized whenever there is objection to the indecency. And they seem to be sincerely oblivious to just how obscene their use of the works of these musicians is in the forwarding of their cause. It is as if they believe the musicians should feel honored by it. What sick minds have these hypocrits that view themselves the godly, moral, ones.

  18. organon says

    At #16, I’ve seen this in Ted Nugent. No matter what one may think of him, his reverence for other musicians, especially black, has him making statements at times so absolutely in conflict with the party he purports to support, that sometimes I wonder if he might find himself lynched for some of the statements he makes, as some of them are so diametrically opposite to everything the republicans/kkk stand for. But since he’s a popular musician, and speaks to the benefit of the republican party, they seem to overlook the quirks. There are other examples out there too.

  19. organon says

    As I go back through the other comments, I see I should have read them BEFORE I posted my comment. This topic hit a powerful emtional button and I jumped straight to writing a comment after reading the article. My apologies to anyone to whom it may seem offensive.

  20. Pierce R. Butler says

    Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

    was used in George H. W. Bush’s 1988 U.S. presidential election as Bush’s 1988 official presidential campaign song, without Bobby McFerrin’s permission or endorsement. In reaction, Bobby McFerrin publicly protested that particular use of his song, including stating that he was going to vote against Bush, and completely dropped the song from his own performance repertoire, to make the point even clearer. The George H. W. Bush campaign then reportedly desisted from further use of the song.

  21. slc1 says

    Re Harold @ #17

    An interesting case in the entertainment industry is Clint Eastwood, supposedly a life long Rethuglican. Of late, he has supported making same sex marriage legal as well as being pro-choice on abortion. His latest directorial effort, a film about J. Edgar Himmler, has raised the ire of Himmler acolytes as it is less then favorable to the old blackmailer. It would appear that, like Barry Goldwater, Mr. Eastwood has taken a turn toward a libertarian bent in his declining years.

  22. says

    i’m surprised the quoted article didn’t mention the fact John Hall was the Democratic Congressman for New York’s 19th congressional district from 2007 to 2011.

  23. FlickingYourSwitch says

    I can see why people have objections towards today’s Republöicans, and I’m worried that not everybody does.

  24. organon says

    The republican party has tended to be anti-art/anti-science, while they pretend to be pro-business and pro-religion (I would argue thst it’s only certain businesses and certain religions, at the expense of all others (not to mention individual rights). They can’t understand why such a high percentage of these persons despise them. I’ve known a very large number of musicians and other artists in my lifetime. You might find a republican here or there, seeing certain glaring faults in the party only being representative of a very small number. They are only republican because they like the party only slightly more than they do the democrats. Views fitting only partly within the party. Now as for those who are independents…I’ve known lots. A liberal mind (not necessarily liberal politics) is going to tend to be drawn to the things to which republicans tend to be anti-thetical. But of course republicans see it as a conspiracy, rather than what it is.

  25. deandu pont says

    Let’s see. They’ve got Charlie Daniels, Ted Nugent, Hank Williams Jr., and… Uhhmmm… I dunno, Agnostic Front? (Nah, that’d just scare ’em.)

    (*snerk*) I know! How about digging up some old Skrewdriver tunes like ‘Blood and Honor’, and see if they take the bait. (For those of you unaware, Skrewdriver was a nazi skinhead band from the UK.) Given the nationalist nature of their lyrics, dopes like Santorum and Perry would probably latch on without a thought, unless somebody sent them an entire album: It’d be entertaining to watch them explain why they’re playing songs by a band that wrote such tunes as ‘Nigger Nigger’ and ‘Free Rudolph Hess.’

  26. ambulocetacean says

    Heh. Reminds me of when Mark Seymour of the Australian band Hunters and Collectors smacked down the right-wing Liberal Party for using one of the band’s songs in an election campaign in Tasmania:

    “We are disgusted by the appropriation of our much-loved anthem by a political party that we utterly despise… To redress any damage that this may have caused to the memory of our band and its music, we would like to make it known to the people of Tasmania that we are opposed to everything that the Liberal Party stands for.”

    If the repugs want anthems from performers who share their views, why not Prussian Blue?

    There’s a couple of blonde-haired, blue-eyed, corn-fed, all-American girls with sound anti-immigration views. What’s not to love?

  27. sunsangnim says

    For an example on the left, they forgot that Pete Townshend didn’t allow Michael Moore to use “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in Fahrenheit 9/11. Not sure if that counts since he’s not a politician.

  28. carlsonjok says

    They’ll always have Toby Keith. Bless him.

    Actually, Toby Keith is a registered Democrat. I have occasion to drive by his home a few times a week and, during election season, if he has any signs at all along his property, it is for local Democrats.

  29. briandavis says

    If more evangelical musicians would be willing to sell their souls at the crossroads then maybe republicans could get some decent music from their supporters.

  30. ambulocetacean says

    And what’s wrong with the Republicans using old Pat Boone songs? He’s a certified wingnut and religious lunatic who’s looking forward to the Judgement Day:

    Now ya get your Holy Bible in the back of the book
    The book of Revelations is the place ya look
    If you understand it and you can if you try
    The Lord is a-comin’ from his throne on high
    a-readin’ in the Bible ’bout the things he said
    He said he’s comin’ back again to raise the dead
    Are ya gonna be among the chosen few?
    Or will you make it through?

    Seems like a perfect fit to me.

  31. organon says

    Not if they want to win votes. They need songs from those they despise in the hope of benefitting from that artists popularity. Even if they believe the artist is guilty of things they believe deserving of the death penalty. They can be used today in the crusade for god, and there’s always tomorrow to deliver their punishment.

  32. markholcombe says

    Intellectual property is the only form of property not recognized by laissez-faire libertarians.

  33. says

    However, he was successful in getting Levi’s to stop using the first two lines of “Fortunate Son” in their advertising campaigns, by appealing to them and pointing out that the song, far from glorifying the flag, is an evisceration of rich families enabling draft-dodging for their sons.

    This appears to be the genesis of the problem. They don’t seem to understand that the songs they like to use are protest songs chock-full of anti-establishment themes. Although Mellencamp and Springsteen’s works are somewhat subtle, there’s nothing subtle at all about Fortunate Son for crying out loud.

  34. Michael Heath says

    Area Man:

    This appears to be the genesis of the problem. They don’t seem to understand that the songs they like to use are protest songs chock-full of anti-establishment themes. Although Mellencamp and Springsteen’s works are somewhat subtle, there’s nothing subtle at all about Fortunate Son for crying out loud.

    I’m confident Levi Strauss knew exactly what the message was in Fortunate Son. It’s an appealing one to the demographics of their targeted niche along with those who want to ape that demographic.

    An aside: George Will doesn’t wear blue-jeans. I find that very odd unless he forgoes them for Carhartt work-pants and overalls which he doesn’t. It’s hard for me to imagine a life-style at his latitude where one doesn’t wear jeans or work-pants.

  35. Rick Pikul says

    Do we know if the Democratic Party nominees/Presidents actually paid a licensing fee to the artists involved?

    Given a few interviews on shows like Q, it seems that Democrats do tend to ask before they use a song.

    I can’t remember the singer, but there was even one case where she was asked for permission and she said no. Not because she didn’t like the candidate, but because she thought the song was a bad choice and suggested a different one.


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