Politicians & Singers, Politics & Song

Here’s what I know, also knowing that a complete accounting of the subject would be much, much, much longer.

In 2012, Barack Obama has James Taylor, will.i.am and Bruce Springsteen.

Mitt Romney has Kid Rock.

In 2008, the folks running the campaign of Republican presidential candidate John McCain used songs by Heart (“Barracuda”) and Jackson Browne (“Running On Empty”) until the artists told them unequivocally to stop.

In his campaign for 2008 New Hampshire Presidential Primary, Democratic candidate John Edwards had Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne. I attended a rally for Edwards on December 19, 2007 in Portsmouth, N.H. that featured a live performance by this duo. Bonnie Raitt kicked off their five song set with her hit version of the John Hiatt song “Thing Called Love.”

Of course, there’s a video!

In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had Carole King.

On Tuesday, January 20, 2004, my wife and I saw Carole King perform at the Concord City Auditorium in Concord, N.H. in a “special FREE concert to welcome John Kerry back to Manchester for the 7-day countdown” to the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. Sen. Kerry opened the show, welcomed everyone, gave a brief campaign speech and, before introducing Ms. King, explained that he had to head back to his hotel room to watch President George W. Bush give his State of the Union address.

Carole King then came out on stage, sat down at a grand piano and treated the audience to an exquisite 45-minute, 9-song concert. Among the songs she played and sang were “Beautiful,” “I Feel The Earth Move,” “Love Makes The World” and, of course, “You’ve Got A Friend.”

In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore had the Paul Simon song “You Can Call Me Al.”

In 1992, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton had the Christine McVie/Fleetwood Mac song “Don’t Stop.” (“thinkin’ about tomorrow…”)

In his 1984 re-election campaign, President Ronald Reagan tried to co-opt Bruce Springsteen’s recently released and very successful song “Born In The U.S.A.” until Bruce said “No.”

In 1968, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy had John Stewart.

Singer/Guitarist/Songwriter John Stewart had been a member of the Kingston Trio from 1961-1967. He had also written the song “Daydream Believer” that The Monkees turned into a #1 hit in 1967.

In 1968, John Stewart “traveled with the (Kennedy) campaign and sang on the backs of trains, flat-bed trucks, town squares and high school auditoriums.” He wrote songs along the way and, in 1985, Stewart recorded and re-recorded many of them for an album he titled The Last Campaign. (The quote above is from Stewart’s liner notes to that album.)

In 1944, politician and singer Jimmie Davis had “You Are My Sunshine” – a song he’d recorded in 1940 and claimed authorship of – during his successful campaign for Governor of Louisiana. At campaign stops, Davis would frequently sing the song and even, on occasion, while riding his horse, whose name was “Sunshine.”

Finally, and on a lighter note, during the 2004 presidential campaign there was JibJab and JibJab had “This Land Is Your Land.”

JibJab was two brothers: Gregg and Evan Spiridellis. They wrote, directed and produced an animated musical video called “This Land!” The soundtrack was a parody of Woody Guthrie’s classic Folk song  “This Land Is Your Land.” It was a huge hit in the relatively new universe known as YouTube.

It’s still rather outrageous and hilarious.

That’s all from me. But please, dear reader, feel free to add to my list with anything you recall from your political past. Just leave a comment!

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