John McCain . . . a Thief?

So I admit it, I was amused that John McCain was in trouble for using Heart’s “Barracuda” after an email expressly asking the Republicans not to use it. I was also amused that I had chosen “Pink Houses” for 80s blogging one week (it was actually chosen for last week but I preempted for NOLA news) before I discovered McCain had used it without permission while Mellencamp was actively campaigning for Edwards!!! (And yes, it did feel like music karma when I also chose Bon Jovi that same post and they announced today they’d be fundraising for Obama later this month, but enough about me, back to McCain . . .)

My amusement aside, it seems McCain has a pattern of using music without permission as part of his national campaign. The issue goes beyond just playing the songs to how use of music by a Candidate gives the impression of endorsement from the artist. When the artist is not consulted, the endorsement is unfairly broadcast to the voting people. And what McCain is finding out is that many of the artists he likes do not feel the same way about him.

Here’s a list of artists and songs he has used to his own detriment, one of whom is suing:

  • Jackson Browne “Running on Empty” – lawsuit pending against McCain for use of “Running on Empty” in campaign commercials (read here)
  • Van Halen “Right Now” – McCain used “Right Now” without permission for his speech in Ohio on Aug. 29, 2008 and Van Halen issued a statement saying they were neither asked nor would they have given permission for the songs use
  • John C. Mellencamp “Pink Houses” and “Our Country” – McCain was using both songs at his rallies around the country, sometimes overlapping with Mellencamp’s own stumping for Edwards. Mellencamp asked the campaign to stop, pointing out the conflict, and the McCain camp did (see here)
  • Heart “Barracuda” – the band asked McCain not to use the song in an email when it was first linked with Palin at the RNC
  • Heart “Barracuda” – McCain used a rift from the song again after his speech and Heart responded with statements to the national media

Given the double slight, and the disparity between the reaction to Heart’s request (female band) and Mellencamp’s request (male band), is it any wonder that they went public with their concern? On their website they said simply that they had asked for the use of the song to stop. This is what they had to say about the song and Sarah Palin after the use of a rift from the song at the end of McCain’s speech:

Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late ’70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The ‘barracuda’ represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there’s irony in Republican strategists’ choice to make use of it there. (Seattle Times)

That is a pretty serious indictment of Palin, who so many have claimed is energizing women everywhere, both with regards to gender issues and her support of corporations over the environment. It is also an indictment of the Republican party relying not only on Palin’s record but also the pro-corporation stance of the Republicans that has resulted in worker exploitation here and abroad and the shipping of companies, whole industries, and jobs overseas (which is part of neo-liberal legislation that Republicans fully support and McCain endorsed in his speech while claiming he was going to create jobs).

To drive the message home, Heart co-author Rogers, said he would be giving a portion of the proceeds from the royalties from the RNC to Barack Obama. Turns out Heart is voting Democrat this fall, and McCain’s blissful disregard for labor just put money in his opponent’s hands.

Heart – Crazy on You

I’ve always loved Heart, everyone in my family (current and natal) has a Heart story, but giving money to Obama and pointing out the irony of “barracuda” is going to the top of the list of reasons to love them.

The saddest part about this from the “I speak for middle America” stand point is that the bands most associated with hard working, middle America have all said they are not interested in McCain’s promise of 4 more years. As Obama said yesterday “that is not just a tree hugging liberal thing.”

PS. I hope he steals from the Dixie Chicks next, they are always so bold and well-spoken (Although, honestly, I do not know who they are voting for.)

Dixie Chicks – Not Ready to Make Nice

(see original video here)

Actually, the Democrats should ask the Dixie Chicks for permission to use this song. Because I don’t know about you all, but I am “still mad as hell” about what has happened to our jobs, our civil rights, our national security, the value we placed in human rights, our image around the world, the mortgage crisis, the assault on women’s rights (including the cuts in women’s health care research, the attacks on women’s studies, the abuse of female soldiers, etc.), the rise in hate crimes, the abuse of people of color, immigrants, and the queer community at the hands of the state.

Can you imaging a democrat commercial or rally with Pink’s “Dear Mr. President” playing?  I want to know how not only George Bush but also every Republican cheering in that audience at the RNC “sleeps while the rest of us cry” imagining 4 more years of middle class bankruptcy and homelessness, ongoing unemployment, and record setting soldier suicides.

Pink- Dear Mr. President

How can you honestly say you want 4 more years? How can you honestly believe someone who mobilizes the rhetoric of the current administration while claiming he will be a reformer in the White House?

Clearly I’ve reached the end of my ability to try and keep this blog on as even a keel as I can while still holding on to my moral compass, so I’ll stop now. But . . . THINK. READ. LOOK AROUND. Musicians are not the only ones losing in this country right now.


4 thoughts on “John McCain . . . a Thief?

  1. Great post! I can’t believe McCain is so BOLD like that when it come s to stealing music.And, are they just stupid, or are they trying to be ironic when using certain songs from music artists who have no intentions of supporting their ideologies or their campaigns?

  2. now ABW you know I try not to call people stupid and there is a communication standard here not to name call, so I will say that McCain’s lack of foresight or assumptions about the monopoly on Americanness of the Republicans has opened the door for scathing criticism and public denunciation from famous artists. Since that cannot help his campaign, one would think he would have learned after the first complaint to stop it. To me it speaks not only to his intellect but also his sense of entitlement and disregard for what members of this nation are legally entitled to and want. Shorten that in your own words however you like.

  3. From Reuters: “Heart singers Ann and Nancy Wilson said a “cease-and-desist” letter has been sent to the Republicans asking them not to use the song. Copyright law may not be on the Wilsons’ side, however, as the song is licensed for public performance under a blanket fee paid by the venue to ASCAP, the firm that collects royalties on behalf of composers and copyright owners.

  4. thanks for the quote, I had thought the articles I linked to here mentioned that, but I see not.That said, do you have a point? McCain did not pay for the rights for 3 of the 4 cases cited AND there is no evidence in the quote you have cited that he paid them in the 4th case either. If there was, I would have said so. What matters here: McCain does not own the rights. AND he has a pattern of disrespecting multiple artists that ultimately makes the Republican party look bad as they line up to denounce him and them. No amount of anonymous quoting of a regularly cited source on this blog will change that. Nor does your quote negate any of the other issues raised in this post, especially the gender issues (gender critique and gender disparities).

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