Recently, the lead singer of one-hit wonder Survivor lambasted Mike Huckabee for using their song in his support for homophobe-under-the-auspice-of-Christianity Kim Davis. Now iconic group REM are chiding Donald Trump for his use of their song “It’s the End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” during one of his campaign rallies. Before that, Neil Young gave him shit for using one of his songs. Not too long ago, the lead singer of Maroon 5 (Adam something, as a blogger I don’t really need to do research on people I don’t give a fuck about) shit out an incendiary tweet telling Fox News to stop using his music on their ‘evil fucking channel.’ And prior to that a band I originally thought was a girl group, the Silversun Pickups, and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine (read: white people, I guess) chastised Paul Ryan for his use of their music as campaign filler and workout music, respectively.
Of all these people, maaayybe Tom Morello has a point. But not really.
Because EVERY one of them only threw their shit-fits because the politicians using their music were Republicans.
That’s not to say Democrats haven’t been called out for using artists’ works for their campaign. Charlie Crist was sued by David Byrne for usage of his song “Road To Nowhere” as a smear campaign against opponent Marco Rubio. Cyndi Lauper vocally expressed her disapproval of Barack Obama’s staff using “True Colors” in a smear campaign against Mitt Romney. See a bit of a trend here? Some artists don’t like you using their music to shit on other people. Pretty understandable, if you ask…well, ANYONE with a lick of sense.
Barack Obama also received notice from Sam Moore opposing his use of “Hold On, I’m Coming” for his initial presidential campaign. However, now-President Obama received a very respectful letter, congratulating him on breaking barriers, but since Moore considers his vote a very personal thing –which it SHOULD be- he didn’t want people thinking he was endorsing any particular candidate.
Okay, full disclosure: I DID do a little research on this piece. Adam Something from Maroon 5’s last name is actually Levine. Oh, and I couldn’t find a single instance where someone told a Democrat to ‘go fuck themselves’ for using his or her music.
But fuck ALL of these guys, not just the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph.
Why? Well, for starters, if you have a problem with someone using your music for ANYTHING, take that shit up with your music licensing group, not the person committing your personal fucking faux pas. Secondly, what kind of asshole thinks he can pick and choose who appreciates their music? I’m reminded of something Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Hamilton,
Granted, these dickheads clearly aren’t expected to rub elbows and declare lifelong friendships with the campaigners they oppose politically. But what’s the big fucking deal? When I was in college I was in a band called the Fatter Day Saints (hence the name.) We’d gained a little ground in the Denton music scene over an impressively short span of time before a little bad luck with heavy drug use and disappearing band funds caused us to split up. But if I had known some polo-wearing douchebag absolutely loved our 80’s buttrock sound with an old school punk lead singer, would I take umbrage? Probably not; people are multifaceted creatures. Their taste in fashion may not match their taste in music. And I’m just thankful someone, ANYONE could appreciate what we did.
But let’s get down to what I think is the root cause for most of the problems these artists have: they’re afraid the fanbase that more readily identifies with their politics will boycott them if they find out their music is played at a Trump/Huckabee/Palin rally. And they fucking KNOW they have little legal recourse due to the licensing check they receive in the mail regularly. So what do they do? Bleed their pussy mouthpieces out on social media letting their blind party fealty followers know that they would NEVER endorse THIS particular dickhead because of the different letter in apostrophes behind their name. And really, they’re probably overthinking the whole thing. When I heard Mike Huckabee introduced some hateful little summer dress and longjohns-wearing sea turtle to the stage using “Eye of the Tiger,” did I immediately remove it as my ringtone? Of course not. You can call me right now, and my pants will play an empowering riff.
Long story short, MUSICIANS: please don’t worry about this shit. You may be disenfranchising someone who’s a fan and may just be misguided in their politics. Lend your influence by stating why you don’t want this particular candidate; perhaps your insight might allow them to rethink their position on whether or not Trump is qualified or capable of handling the highest position in the nation. But ‘go fuck yourself’ sounds like a jab at not only Trump, but his supporters as well. And those people didn’t do shit to you (unless you want to count all that money they put in your self-absorbed pocket.)