I woke up last Wednesday and cautiously peeked out the window. You can imagine my astonishment when I discovered the world still existed. In fact, it turned out to be a beautiful day.
Having listened to all the rhetoric leading up to last week’s election, I thought for sure the world was going to end once all the votes were counted and the (fill in the blank) Democrats or Republicans won.
All the claims and threats and predictions can make our elections a real spectacle. If it weren’t for the music, I could do without them all together. That’s right, the music. American politicians have a long history of “borrowing” popular songs to rev up the crowds during campaigns.
Back in 1928, Al Smith, who grew up in New York City, used the song “The Streets of New York.” This presumably helped him in New York, though not so much anywhere else. In 1932, FDR’s theme song was “Happy Days Are Here Again.” The idea was he could lead us out of the Great Depression — although more voters probably were inspired by the idea that he promised to end Prohibition.
Harry Truman in 1948? “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” of course. John F. Kennedy used the Frank Sinatra song “High Hopes” in 1960. George McGovern often used “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel in 1972, which seems to be an apt description of his campaign, except his bridge collapsed.
I really like some of the more recent choices by candidates.
Donald Trump often has used the song “We’re Not Going to Take It,” by Twisted Sister, a band that probably is not on the playlist for most of his conservative supporters.
Back in the ’90s, Bill Clinton insisted on “Don’t Stop (Thinkin’ About Tomorrow)” by Fleetwood Mac. Considering it was a song by a band that was wracked by personal scandal and broken relationships, only to make a comeback, it seemed weirdly appropriate.
Back in 1996, Bob Dole borrowed the Sam and Dave hit “Soul Man” and turned it into “Dole Man.” Dole might have been a lot of things – war hero, senator, all that stuff – but if there ever was a song that didn’t fit, this was it.
Then there is my personal favorite — Ross Perot’s campaign song in 1992. “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. What could be better?
Often times, candidates steal songs over the protests of the artists. Sarah Palin used the song “Barracuda” by the group Heart because that’s what her friends called her when she played high school basketball. The band loudly protested. In fact, the same thing happened with Twisted Sister when Trump pre-empted their song. Neil Young protested when Trump used his song “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
When Ronald Reagan used “Born in the U.S.A” in 1984, Bruce Springsteen tried to show him who really was boss.
When John McCain trotted out the song “Take a Chance on Me” by Abba, the Swedish group protested, but probably not as much as the rest of us who wondered who thought it was a good idea in the first place.
In fact, all kinds of groups have threatened Trump in recent years when he used their songs, but the Donald being the Donald, he just keeps using them, anyway. What are they going to do, sue?
I think we should get ahead of the game and have voters pick the songs for the candidates. Here are my suggestions for the 2020 presidential election, with the assumption the Democrats are going to find someone who can run:
• Donald Trump: “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. Self-explanatory.
• Bernie Sanders: “Taxman” by the Beatles. You have to pay for all those programs somehow. Alternate: “Free Ride” by Edgar Winter.
• Joe Biden: “Old Man” by Neil Young.
• Elizabeth Warren: “Little Red Riding Hood,” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. She’s a favorite of the left wing, hence the “red.” Actually, I just wanted to mention Sam the Sham.
• Michael Bloomberg: “Money” by Pink Floyd.
There are lots more candidates and lots more songs, but I’m out of space. We’ll just wrap it up with what might be the most appropriate political song of them all: “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” (R.E.M.). But I feel fine.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.