On the Goe: Some music, politicians don’t mix

Nothing makes me happier during the political season than seeing candidates publicly humiliated. After nauseating months of political posturing, aka hypocritical half-truths and bold-faced lying, I just want to see them fall flat on their big dumb smug faces.

Outside of the usual cronyism, sexual trysts and foot-in-mouth gaffes that follow any campaign, my shame of choice for office-seekers is the decisive stick-it-to-the-man move: the cease-and-desist order stopping political tools from using an honest four-chord rock song because they lack the integrity and creativity to convey that message themselves.

Already this season, Mitt Romney was served with cease-and-desist orders from Bruce Springsteen and Silversun Pickups to stop using their songs at campaign rallies.

It’s hard enough to believe a wooden robot like Romney even knows who the Silversun Pickups are, yet “Panic Switch” blasted at a rally. My guess is a bunch of starched white collars and a single intern with a Pandora account met at Romney campaign HQ to pick out an edgy rock song to galvanize the youth vote. Whatever the reason, it’s a phony effort to gain political advantage. Basically, another day at the office.

Romney is hardly the first GOP member to be denied song use by American musicians. I’m willing to bet every Republican nominee since President Ronald Regan has had run-ins with angry musicians. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. The GOP is old and conservative while musicians are youthful and alternative. Polar opposites.

Former presidential nominee John McCain takes the cake in this arena. He was publicly denied by and in some cases sued by Heart, John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne, Foo Fighters and Boston in one campaign season. Receiving the big NO from celebrity musicians must hurt. It’s a personal attack. “I dislike you and your personal core beliefs so much that the thought of my pop song being associated with a tiger petter like you makes me so physically repulsed I have to publicly request you sever all ties from me and my music.”

Hand it to McCain, he’s got a pair of stones, but boy is that embarrassing.

My favorite political music pairing is also the most vexing: Paul Ryan and Rage Against the Machine. The irony may be lost on Ryan that he is exactly the machine Zack de la Rocha and company are raging against, but hey, he still counts them as a personal favorite.

What about Obama? While nearly ever artist in the free world endlessly swoons over the current president, he comes off as some sort of big city bohemian with his music selections. The official 2012 Campaign Playlist available for streaming on Spotify is a calculated grab bag of RnB, indie rock and country pop surely selected to highlight the president’s diverse background and hopefully deliver a couple swing states come November.

Come on. It’s a good mix, but does anyone really think Obama is jamming out in the Oval Office to Dierks Bentley or Sugarland? That’s an obvious shout out to you, Colorado.   

Ultra successful politicians on big ego power trips trying to ascend to the presidency will never be able to truly relate to the middle class that the likes of Mellencamp and Springsteen so passionately embrace because, frankly, they are no longer humans. How many deals with the devil do you have to make to even be in the position to run for president? Playing “Pink Houses” at a campaign rally hardly makes up for a lifetime of megalomania.

Music is a powerful and persuasive medium, but in the hands of win-at-all-cost-hacks, it’s buffoonery 101.

David Goe is a programmer for KAFM 88.1 Community Radio. His show airs at 9 p.m. the first Friday and first Saturday of each month. You can email Goe at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter at @David_Goe.


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