If you and your President-elect of choice need to agree on all the big issues -- the war in Iraq, taxes, economic growth, civil liberties -- do you need to have the same taste in music, too?
Presidential candidates have been using music to promote their campaigns practically since the birth of the nation. Though creativity might have been a little lacking in that first attempt -- "God Save Great George Washington" was really just "God Save the King" with Washington's name crammed in there -- it was the beginning of a long-standing tradition of appropriating popular music for political gain.
The first candidate to choose a pre-existing song for his campaign was Franklin D. Roosevelt with "Happy Days Are Here Again." John F. Kennedy had "High Hopes", Bill Clinton had "Don't Stop" and Ross Perot had Patsy Cline's "Crazy," which could well have just been a lifelong anthem. But musicians aren't always willing to give up their work to support particular candidates: Tom Petty threatened legal action against George W. Bush if he didn't cease the use of "I Won't Back Down" during his 2000 campaign run and it's been a lesson learned many times over during this year's race.
"Happy Days Are Here Again"
In early October the Associated Press reported that the Foo Fighters had contacted the McCain/Palin camp, ordering them to cease the use of "My Hero" on the campaign trail. Before them, John Bon Jovi ("Who Says You Can't Go Home"), Heart ("Barracuda") and Jackson Browne ("Runnin' on Empty") all had issued similar orders.
The Foo Fighters reaction on MSNBC
The Obama campaign hasn't been immune from the musician's backlash, either. Soul legend Sam Moore, of duo Sam and Dave, asked the campaign to stop using his iconic song, "Soul Man". Moore said he didn't want to come out in support of either candidate, but more importantly, that he would've like to have been asked permission for use of the track.
The McCain/Palin camp did issue a statement to the AP indicating that it had obtained the appropriate licenses for all of the songs played at McCain rallies. Not surprisingly, the issue seems less to do with licensing and, as Moore noted, much more to do with personal political affiliations.
Despite all this, in the end both candidates have managed to put together soundtracks for the race. Obama's features Ben Harper's "Better Way" and Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," and McCain's has ABBA's "Take A Chance on Me" and John Rich's "Raising McCain."
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered"
"Take A Chance On Me"
All of McCain's musical missteps certainly haven't gone unnoticed, though. The Spoof! offered up their own version of the tale in which scorned artists created an alliance. It's worth reading, if only for McCain's response to the backlash.
And if you're feeling just a little too disenchanted with the whole damn thing (still), even with all the pretty music, check out the latest viral craze -- the kids from Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy give us a little bit more faith in the future. Even if it is just the future of parody songs. Just don't tell T.I. someone is using his song without permission.