Metal Blade Records On May 17, As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis appeared in…
- Posted on Jan 18th 2008 10:00AM by James Sullivan
They can expound at length on key economic indicators, complex health care initiatives and the precarious nuances of foreign policy. But can your presidential candidates make sense of a simple pop song? As the Washington Post's Paul Farhi points out, much of the theme music heard on the campaign trail this season hasn't been particularly well-vetted.
Hillary Clinton, for example, has stepped onstage in recent weeks to Bachman-Turner Overdrive's 'Takin' Care of Business' and Tom Petty's 'American Girl,' among other oldies. But the BTO song, as Farhi notes, is actually about slacking, not TCB: "It's the work that we avoid, and we're all self-employed/ We love to work at nothing all day." And the Petty ditty is actually about dashed dreams: "God it's so painful/ Something that's so close/ And still so far out of reach."
On the GOP side, Elvis's 'A Little Less Conversation,' a hustings favorite of Mitt Romney, features a less-than-wholesome message -- "Close your mouth and... satisfy me, baby." And the Clash's 'Rudie Can't Fail,' which has popped up at more than one event starring a certain Giuliani, wonders, "How you get so rude and reckless?... You been drinking brew for breakfast." Hey, it's tough out there on the stump.
The misappropriation of pop songs in the political arena is, of course, not just an '08 phenomenon. The story of Ronald Reagan's manhandling of 'Born in the USA' has, to borrow a phrase, ended up like a dog that's been beat too much. When John McCain tried out John Phillip Sousa's march 'The Liberty Bell' during his 2000 campaign, it took his aides some time to figure out why audiences kept laughing. The song is best known as the theme to 'Monty Python's Flying Circus.'
But it took independent challenger Ross Perot, back in '92, to sum up the whole process. His campaign used his favorite Patsy Cline song: 'Crazy.'