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Ten Controversial Campaign Songs

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Politicians are a crazy lot. The endless campaigning with all those speeches and forced smiles, trying to make people happy and to like them, shaking hands, kissing babies, pretending to listen to everyone's both real and imagined problems, who would want that? I guess it's true, it takes all kinds. And if you're John McCain, your people don't know how to pick campaign songs without causing a controversy. I'm sure Ted Nugent would gladly lend "Wango Tango," "Free For All" or "Cat Scratch Fever" to the campaign. But instead they decided on "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters, who now want it stopped. Just the latest in a long line of musicians who don't want anything to do with John McCain.

FDR used "Happy Times Are Here Again," JFK had "High Hopes." I'd personally like to see someone use Van Halen's "Running With the Devil." But you can see why I'm not allowed to work on political campaigns. I'm a moron!

But here are Ten Controversial Campaign Songs.

Republicans have a 10-0 lead over Democrats in this field. If someone can find me a performer who complained about a Democrat using their song, I'd like to hear about it.

10) "Brand New Day"--Sting (Candidate: George W. Bush): Sting let Al Gore use this tune after chastising George W. Bush in the 2000 campaign for adopting it. Can we blame Sting for the hanging chads in Florida? Maybe if Gore had used a tune with a little more force, his voters would've been energized enough to push through the entire piece of cardboard?

9) "Right Now"--Van Halen (Candidate: John McCain): Warning: McCain's camp really has been picking them at an alarming rate. Maybe they figured Sammy Hagar was so wasted down in Cabo Wabo or wherever the heck he parties that he wouldn't find time to complain, but the Van Halen camp was sober enough and not happy and, yes, demanded the use of their song be stopped: Right Now.

8) "Our Country/Pink Houses"--John Mellencamp (Candidate: John McCain): The Mellencamp catalog is so deep and rife with American anthems that Mellen practically waits for these things to happen. George W. Bush tried using "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." back in 2000 and that didn't go over and now John McCain picked two favorites. McCain might even own a pink house! Or maybe just a pink condo! Only his financial adviser knows for sure.

7) "I Won't Back Down"--Tom Petty (Candidate: George W. Bush): Back in 2000, George W. Bush was going to be "Uniter not a Divider" but this tune of personal stubbornness more effectively described his point of view. However, Tom Petty was not about to allow his personal declaration of independence to be co-opted by a politician he didn't like. After all, what's the point of independent status if you're going to let someone else borrow it from you?

6) "My Hero"--Foo Fighters (Candidate: John McCain): You sometimes have to wonder where these ideas come from. Pardon me for putting these limits on people, or unfairly stereotyping, but I don't know a whole lot of 72 year old men who are digging the Foo Fighters. From the mosh pit to the upper decks, they're just not in attendance. And by looking at the crowds that gather at McCain rallies, I don't see a whole lot of people that I would peg as Foo Fighter fans. So it's probably a good thing for all concerned if they stop playing this tune, since to most of the people in the audience it probably sounds like what they consider to be that awful racket coming from their kid's room. And they're probably right.

5) "Running On Empty"--Jackson Browne (Candidate: John McCain): First thought was: Has McCain lost his mind? Then I found out he was using it to describe Barack Obama. Sounded like a risky strategy, since the first instinct is to assume that the person using the song would be doing so to promote themselves. I imagine lots of moments of clarification being necessary. "No, I didn't mean I was running on empty. I meant, that one is running on empty." Browne put forth a lawsuit to ensure a stop to this potential madness.

4) "Barracuda"--Heart (Candidate: Sarah Palin): So she was called Sarah "Barracuda" in high school. Phyllis on "The Office" was known as "Easy Rider." Maybe you were known as "The Purple People Eater" or "Loser." Personally, I was known as "Hey You." The Heart camp were deeply offended as they feel their womanly views include a right to choose that Ms. Palin does not agree with. In any case, it must be surreal bringing out a political candidate to a song that includes a line like: "You lying so low in the weeds/I bet you gonna ambush me." As Guns n' Roses might say "Welcome to the Jungle, kids."

3) "Dole Man (Soul Man)"--Sam & Dave (Candidate: Bob Dole): Now this one took some doing. Someone had to actually go in and change the words to "Dole" instead of "Soul" for this guy who ran for president against Bill Clinton in 1996. The Sam & Dave people didn't go for it. Me? I thought it was an odd way to sell pineapples.

2) "Still The One"--Orleans (Candidates: George W. Bush, John McCain): Sometimes it's like, who didn't get the memo? John Hall of Orleans, currently a Democratic New York Congressman, complained loudly when George W. Bush tried to use his song, so then McCain does the same thing? What are the Vegas odds on Hall demanding he stop using the song? Why couldn't McCain choose something by, say, Abba, and just avoid the whole controversy. Oh, wait, he did. His campaign played "Take A Chance On Me" and "it's my understanding they (Abba) went berserk," said McCain. Stick to Ted Nugent, my friend.

1) "Born In The USA"--Bruce Springsteen (Candidate: Ronald Reagan): Back in 1984, seeking re-election, Ronald Reagan, an unlikely Bruce Springsteen fan, evoked the New Jersey rocker in a stump speech and tried to use the Boss' "Born in the USA" tune to pump up the patriotic pride. While a song about a shafted Vietnam Veteran who had "nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go" might not be the best song to promote whatever it is politicians promote (I don't think it's homelessness, but I could be wrong), Bruce and his people let it be known that they were displeased by this association. Mr. Springsteen has since performed concerts to endorse and support John Kerry and now Barack Obama. The McCain camp has wisely avoided using anything in the Springsteen catalog, though there's still time for to re-write "Adam Raised a Cain" to "Adam Raised a McCain." Something tells me Bruce would not be amused.

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