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.