Woody_Guthrie_2 Well, she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn’t help thinkin’
That there was a little more to life somewhere else
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
And if she had to die tryin’
She had one little promise she was gonna keep
Well, it was kind of cold that night
She stood alone on her balcony
Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by
Out on 441 like waves crashin’ on the beach
And for one desperate moment
There he crept back in her memory
God it’s so painful when something that’s so close
Is still so far out of reach
O yeah, all right
Take it easy, baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl

Tom Petty

I’ve been confused by Republicans for 50 years now. But, the musical issues surrounding them are just really strange. I know that they only know some of the lyrics to the national anthem, but they know all the lyrics to “Proud to be an American…” Maybe they ought to stick with that.

The latest use of Tom Petty’s American Girl by Michelle Bachman is amazing. These are the lyrics by one of the great American Rock ‘n Roll band leaders, songwriters and performers. What part of these lyrics are the kind of thing you use in a campaign rally? Where’s the hope, the city on the hill kind of thing? Not there…this is a song about disappointment, despair and carrying on. Michellina is definitely a carrying on sort of person, but she’s hardly the type to despair or give in to disappointment. She’s definitely a “glass half full” sort of insane person.

Petty was ripped off before when George W Bush used I Won’t Back Down which is not a song for the msot powerful man in the world. It’s for a guy with his back against the wall, outnumbered and facing demons. Bush never faced demons or worried a lot about the impact of his inane insanity. He wasn’t a guy to get all concerned with thinking about stuff.

Of course, the great song ripoff of the last election was the Huckabee use of More than a Feeling by Boston. He had one of the various rhythm guitarists in his little band ensemble and that guy told him it would be ok for them to play it at functions and rallies…until the Tom Scholz found out and got pissed. Which kinda sorta made sense, because he wrote it, arranged it, played all the guitar parts and produced it. “BOSTON has never endorsed a political candidate, and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything BOSTON stands for. In fact, although I’m impressed you learned my bass guitar part on More Than a Feeling, I am an Obama supporter.” Now, I’m pretty sure that music get used in local elections in ways that would make Willie Nelson give up weed and have Keith Richards take up pottery. But Huckabee is supposedly a musician, and even on bass, you have to know the lyrics enough to get the articulation right. What part of these lyrics have something to do with a fundamentalist Republican right wing asshole wanting to make the USA into a slightly more tolerant theocracy than Iran?

I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away
It’s more than a feeling (more than a feeling)
When I hear that old song they used to play (more than a feeling)
I begin dreaming (more than a feeling)
’till I see Marianne walk away
I see my Marianne walkin’ away

So many people have come and gone
Their faces fade as the years go by
Yet I still recall as I wander on
as clear as the sun in the summer sky
When I’m tired and thinking cold
I hide in my music, forget the day
and dream of a girl I used to know
I closed my eyes and she slipped away
She slipped away…

Tom Scholtz

Classic American 70s pop with a Tom Rush twist. As music from that era goes, not bad. But it’s about personal despair, pain and loss. That’s why so many people relate to it, and that’s why it makes no sense. There’s no excuse for Huckabee on this one…of course, he “pardoned” Keith Richards for his drug conviction in Arkansas. Problem is that Keith remembers the event well, but doesn’t actually recall being arrested or charged or anything like that. And as he points out in Life, he didn’t have problems with visas to the USA for years, and a state conviction for felony drug possession should have resulted in far more than a police escort to the airport. And, given the attitude of the legal establishment in 1975, if they’d been caught, they’d have been locked up for a while. Keith doesn’t deny that the car was loaded with shit. He just believes that the cops didn’t find it. Big Mike pardoned an urban legend; so much for music.

Then, there’s the case of John Mellancamp. John McCain’s campaign decided to use his music in 2008 –Pink Houses and Our Country. Reagan’s re-election campaign asked to us Pink Houses in 1984. Mellancamp is a liberal Democrat, and he’s to the left of most of the Democratic establishment. You’d think somebody would have gone to Farm Aid to pass out bumper stickers and American Flag decals and free Budweiser and maybe kinda noticed?

Now, because of their vague understanding of history, the Republicans would never ask or try to use Bob Dylan songs. Which is too bad, because Bob is pretty a-political these days, but he hates to let people screw with his music. The thought Bush and McCain at a rally in New Orleans with “If It Keeps on Rainin’ the Levee’s Gonna Break” and “Jokerman” is just too weird to not cause Hunter S Thompson to get out of his grave and stroll over to New Orleans to see…

Of course, the entire debacle of these fools trying to be with it was really taken to the stars by Reagan, again in 1984 when he heaped praise on Bruce Springsteen for Born in the USA.Bruce really felt that Reagan didn’t get it..even a little bit. This is not “Morning in America.” He described it this way, the song is about”a working-class man” [in the midst of a] “spiritual crisis, in which man is left lost…It’s like he has nothing left to tie him into society anymore. He’s isolated from the government. Isolated from his family…to the point where nothing makes sense.”

I was at a football game in 1970, the first game at Holy Cross after Kent State. Some idiot scheduled the Marine Silent Drill Team for Halftime…tone deaf or stupid? Politicians should generally avoid music, and if their advance people feel the need to warm up the crowd, it’s probably better for their karma to stick to Sousa Marches and not try to reach out to the depths of anyone’s soul. Sousa Marches can get your blood flowing and make you enthusiastic — they don’t have lyrics. The lyrics of the last 50 years don’t stack up real well as mindless pap. The whole “You can dance to it, I give it an 8″ thing kinda died when John Lennon wrote No Where Man and Dylan discovered his affinity for Stratocasters.

I mean, sheesh, if you’re looking for the perfect song for Republican America, how can you beat “Highway 61?” It runs from near Hibbing, Minnesota and all the way to New Orleans

I’d definitely stay away from Bruce. Because his music is Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger with a backbeat, and a lot of personal angst and pain. This is really his poltics — American Existential and liberal Democrat. But mainly, Musician…

Some folks are born into a good life,
Other folks get it anyway, anyhow,
I lost my money and I lost my wife,
Them things don’t seem to matter much to me now.
Tonight I’ll be on that hill ’cause I can’t stop,
I’ll be on that hill with everything I got,
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost,
I’ll be there on time and I’ll pay the cost,
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town

Bruce Springsteen