Back in the 1980’s I never knew that a song from one of my favorite musical artist would be so politically polarizing. My high school boyfriend and I were on the outs (again) because it was a union that was never consummated beyond some heavy petting in the stacks of the Chicago Public Library. During my romantic off seasons, my Sony Walkman was playing some sad tunes. This was how I came to know Tom Petty- at least in song and video. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” summed up my teenage angst perfectly. African American Afrocity in hormonal wonderland- ends up nothing more than a piece of cake to be indulged and devoured piece by piece in the mouths of the pubescent patriarchy. I borrowed the identity of the visual- the wandering girl- little did I know that I would be at the wrong end of Tom Petty’s preferred customer spectrum because I am a conservative.
From an article in the Washington Post:
Tom Petty not pleased with Michele Bachmann’s use of ‘American Girl’
By Sarah Anne Hughes
Michele Bachmann may be an “American Girl.” But Tom Petty wants to make it clear, she’s not his.
NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell interviewed Bachmann on Monday’s “Nightly News with Brian Williams” as the presidential hopeful kicked off her campaign in Waterloo, Iowa. During the interview, Bachmann made the now well-known John Wayne gaffe. But there was another mistake made that day.
O’Donnell reported that Petty’s manager has asked Bachmann’s campaign to stop using the song “American Girl,” which was played at the end of the kickoff.
Petty’s people previously asked George W. Bush to not use his music. But Hillary Clinton did use “American Girl” during her 2008 campaign.
Ok Mr. Petty lets be honest here. If it were Hillary Clinton that used your song would you have been okay with it?
Was Fleetwood Mac horrified when Bill Clinton’s campaign used “Don’t Stop”?
No of course not- the Clintons are liberals after all and therefore it is okay for them to play whatever they want during public appearances because most musicians are liberals- so it seems.
Was the music band Heart upset when the played “Barracuda” as Gov. Palin – a conservative pro-lifer – took the stage during the 2008 Presidential Campaign as John McCain’s running mate? You betcha.
Normally when you want to use an artist’s song, you pay them for the rights to do so. The McCain Campaign claimed they did so. These same musicians are not sending “cease and desist” letters to the millions of Republicans that download their music on iTunes or Amazon. Our conservative money seemed good enough for you then. However, when a conservative wants to use music as a means of “rallying the base” suddenly an acid test for rights and reproductions seems to come into play.
Chicago Tribune Photo of Men at last week's Gay Pride Parade...Would Tom Petty have approved if "American Girl" was playing loudly as they paraded in the streets?
I did not know that a musicians listeners had be a part of some sort political affinity group of their choosing. When I listen to a song, I do not care if the singer is a liberal or a conservative- at least I didn’t until recently. My Apple downloads happen about once a month. In March of this year I was in the grocery store and they were playing “Road to Nowhere” by the Talking Heads. Ah, another one of my 80’s favorites. Immediately, I made a mental note to download it later. That night I purchased the song along with “It Ain’t Enough” by Corey Heart, “Hungry Heart” by Bruce Springsteen, “Go Insane” by Lindsey Buckingham, “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen and “Water of Love” by Dire Straits. Stop laughing!!! I was having a longing for my youthful past and slimmer thighs.
While dancing around my apartment channeling a smooth derriere, imagine my surprise when I saw this:
Obviously, the main trouble here is that Christ did not ask for permission to use the song- but is that all that is to this.
Do Democrats ever get sued over the usage of songs from popular musicians.
According to this article at Slate.com, the answer is yes…but rarely:
By Stephen Spencer Davis
Posted Thursday, Jun. 30, 2011
…When news broke of Bachmann’s legal troubles, reporters and bloggers who weren’t already mocking her John Wayne Gacy gaffe happily rattled off the names of other politicians who’d committed similar copyright crimes. The Toronto Star offered a long, decidedly Republican, list: Jackson Browne sued John McCain in 2008, for example, when the then-presidential contender used the song “Running on Empty” in campaign ads. Canadian rockers Rush (politely) told Rand Paul to stop using their song “Spirit of Radio” during his quest for the Senate. And when Sarah “Barracuda” Palin’s campaign team used the Heart song “Barracuda” in its marketing, the band served it a cease-and-desist letter. (Palin’s team responded that it had purchased the rights to the song.) This wasn’t even the first time Petty has barred a Republican presidential candidate from using his tunes: After George W. Bush used “I Won’t Back Down” during his 2000 campaign, Petty’s lawyers threatened to sue unless Bush’s team pulled the song.
That’s gotten some people wondering: Have any Democratic candidates ever been asked to stop using a song in their campaign?
Well, the president has. In February 2008, soul music legend Sam Moore told Obama to stop playing the Sam and Dave song “Hold On, I’m Comin’.” The then-candidate’s team had been blasting the tune at rallies without Moore’s permission, and some audience members had been adopting their preferred lyrics: “Hold on, Obama’s comin’.”
The tension between musical artists and conservative politicians is difficult to deny. My question is what I am supposed to do as a listener? Should I punish the musician for being liberal? Should I delete my songs from Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks, Talking Heads, Michael Jackson? Should I erase Tom Petty from my lifetime playlist?
Through music, these artists have been free to express themselves. Would they object to my quiet conservative assertions? Worse, if I ever ran for political office and wanted to use a Tom Petty song would he send me a cease and desist letter despite my having been a follower for over two decades?
Today is Independence Day.
I wonder of Star Spangled Banner lyricist Francis Scott Key would send a cease and desist letter to the millions of liberals who sing the song? Who did he have in mind when he wrote it? Americans- and that’s all that should matter.
Music activists or police should appreciate the freedoms they receive. How about letting your listeners do the same. Understand that your songs mean different things to different people. We bought your music and made you rich. You did not care that my debit card was tied to a conservative account. I will not delete your songs Mr. Petty because I respect your opinion and will give your the respect that you did not give to Michelle Bachmann, or George Bush.
Obviously you “Don’t Know How It Feels”.
In this case the “it” is freedom.
Happy Independence Day to Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Conservatives- To AMERICANS everywhere.
Autographed Letter Signed,