Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Classic rock music to stay in presidential campaigns for a long, long time

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Originally published on on Fri, 05/09/2008 – 6:21am

Bill Clinton’s presidential terms brought a lot of firsts, including being the first “classic rock” president. His use of the Fleetwood Mac song “Don’t Stop (Thinking about Tomorrow)” in 1992 was inspirational.

On my Indiana trip, I noticed there was a soundtrack during Bill Clinton’s stop in Plymouth and Hillary Clinton’s stop in South Bend. After the speeches, the soundtrack kicked in.

John Mellencamp – This Is My Country

Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down

Bachman Turner Overdrive – You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

Theme from Rocky – Bill Conti

The artists and titles have great significance. Mellencamp ties into Indiana and the pride in our country. Petty sounds familiar to that audience, and the obvious title for Hillary of not backing down. While BTO is a Canadian group, the title and classic rock familiarity are appropriate for Hillary Clinton’s demographics. And the Theme from Rocky obviously is a carryover from the fighter image and the Pennsylvania primary.

The Baby Boomers and classic rock go hand-in-hand. As someone who has worked on-the-air in commercial radio (including classic rock) and who follows the radio industry, the business is still fascinated with playing the same overplayed classic rock songs and artists, and will until the Baby Boomers die off, or maybe not even then.

George W. Bush also falls under the Baby Boomers category; to his base, there was quite a bit of older country music on his iPod. The London Times described his list as having “No black artists, no gay artists, no world music, only one woman, no genre less than 25 years old, and no Beatles.”

I am a little nervous to realize that the one thing we have in common is our love for the Knack’s “My Sharona.”

But music inspires us, and that is one thing the Clintons are good at, tying in emotions from the music to reinforce their speeches.

Now you could argue that Ronald Reagan was the first president to seize upon the classic rock world when he incorporated Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” But given that the words didn’t reflect what Reagan wanted, Reagan was clueless about the use of classic rock. And I also have to add Interior Secretary James Watt’s obsession with the Beach Boys, banning the group in 1983 from the National Mall, saying that rock concerts drew “an undesirable element.”

Now Barack Obama and John McCain have one interesting thing in common: neither of them are Baby Boomers. But they do know that Baby Boomers are still a key part of the electorate. After all, McCain paid homage to the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” with his parody “Bomb Iran.”

Obama had Stevie Wonder with him the night before the Indiana primary in Indianapolis. And Bruce Springsteen is on the Obama train; the campaign is using his “Land of Hope and Dreams” song. Mellencamp played for both Obama and Clinton while they were in Indiana.

The use of popular music is now a permanent fixture in presidential races. In time, the music may change from classic rock to country to, maybe in my lifetime, early 80s pop or 90s grunge. One of Hillary Clinton’s buttons on display in Plymouth, Indiana was a picture of Elton John and Hillary Clinton with the words “The Bitch is Back,” a play on his song from the 1970s. One young boy was looking at the button and asked his mom, “Who’s the old guy?”

So what song do you think would make a great choice for the candidates? Is the title more important? The lyrics? Whether the artist is American? Give us your choices for songs for the presidential candidates.


Written by democracysoup

May 9, 2008 at 6:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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