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Pop Goes the Campaign Trail

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Politicians have been using popular music as election anthem songs for decades. A campaign song must be inspiring, memorable, a statement of purpose. But very often, politicians get this way wrong. And more often than that – they don’t ask permission. Washington Post contributor Allison Stewart joins us to talk about campaign theme songs past and present. And: intellectual property lawyer Jonathan D. Reichman joins us to explain the legal issues behind election anthems.

Listeners: Does a song, once used in a political campaign, ever shake the association? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.

Today's Playlist:

1. "Click With Dick" - Song from Richard Nixon's 1960 presidential campaign

2. "Road To Nowhere" - Talking Heads (Little Creatures)

3. "I Won't Go Back Down" - Tom Petty (Full Moon Fever)

4. "Work For The Workin Man" Bon Jovi (The Circle)

5. "A Change Would Do You Good" (Sheryl Crow)

6. "R.E.N.T" - Jimmy McMillan (The Rent Is Too DAMN High)

7. "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" - Fleetwood Mac (Rumours)

Credit: WNYC Archive Collections
Following are a selection of campaign records from elections past...
Credit: WNYC Archive Collections
Credit: WNYC Archive Collections
Credit: WNYC Archive Collections
Credit: WNYC Archive Collections
Credit: WNYC Archive Collections


Jonathan D. Reichman and Allison Stewart

Comments [5]

Ash in Chelsea


I discovered your program because I retired from the work force in 2002 and started listening to WNYC FM regularly whenever I'm at home during the day.

While most of the music you play does not appeal to me -- I'm 71 and mostly into the American Song Book, jazz (the only place I know where one can find performances of the American Song Book these days) and some Pop/Rhythm and Blues -- I have learned a great deal from listening to the wide variety of music you play and discuss.

It occurred to me today, that you have even managed to make today's program very topical and relevant.

I think you do a top notch job and extend to your my sincerest compliments!!!

Nov. 02 2010 02:32 PM

John -- Why don't you have Mr. Reichman from Kenyon & Kenyon on when you have Randy Cohen on spewing his misinformation about intellectual property masquerading as "ethics?" Mr. Reichman knows his stuff, while Randy, despite his legal disclaimers, is simply a Christine O'Donnell of "ethics," given an unrebutted megaphone on your show.

Nov. 02 2010 02:19 PM
Ted in Atlanta from the Rally For Sanity

We went to the birth home museum of W.C. Handy over the summer while visiting a Wright Usonian Home in Florence, AL. Thought I remembered this - I quote wikipedia:

"The genesis of his (Handy's) "Memphis Blues" was as a campaign tune originally entitled as "Mr. Crump" which he had written for Edward Crump, a successful Memphis, Tennessee mayoral candidate in 1909 (and future "boss"). He later rewrote the tune and changed the name to "Memphis Blues."

Handy's first popular success, "Memphis Blues". Recorded by Victor Military Band, July 15, 1914. Length 2:58.
The 1912 publication of his "Memphis Blues" sheet music introduced his style of 12-bar blues to many households and was credited as the inspiration for the invention of the foxtrot dance step by Vernon and Irene Castle, a New York–based dance team. Some consider it to be the first blues song. "

Nov. 02 2010 02:15 PM
Rich K from Union City NJ

Clinton used "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" in 1992 for it's uplifting chorus, but the verses were about a relationship on the rocks. Oops.

Nov. 02 2010 02:14 PM
Eric from Manhattan

John Mellencamp sent a cease/desist letter to McCain to stop using his song "Our Country" (from the car commercials). Not sure what McCain was thinking since Mellencamp's politics are pretty clear.

Nov. 02 2010 02:11 PM

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