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The Song Remains the Same

October 2, 2007

I blog about music A LOT. But, I am not going to stop blogging about music in relation to politics, because I think it is very important. Music forms a major thread in the fabric of our culture. It allows for the expression of ideas, the use of metaphors and other literary devices to convey a point. It is often short, to the point, and readily accessible- easier than, say, a book of poems or a 500-page novel. As well, music has been used in U.S. political campaigns for at least 150 years, if not more. Campaign songs are nothing new. Neither are songs that attack politicians. This campaign’s songs have not been finalized yet, but chances are there will be some wacky choices. Currently, the only official one is Celine Dion’s You and I for Hillary’s campaign.
Originally, campaign songs were simple affairs, or written with the candidate in mind. Both Teddy Roosevelt, for his 1912 independent campaign, and Dwight D. Eisenhower had songs specifically about them. Here is a nice list of older campaign songs Other presidential hopefuls, such as JFK, used optimistic songs-i.e. “High Hopes.” Candidates also have been known to mis-step when choosing a song- most notably Ronald Reagan’s attempted use of the anti-war “Born in the U.S.A.”
Campaign songs, though they may seem frivolous, are often an integral part of the presidential campaign. They will probably play a huge role in raising the emotional stakes in an already emotional race. Music will also play a huge role in defining the candidates’ images, especially following a president that was viciously attacked by musicians. Whichever songs the campaigns choose, they will have to be poignant and powerful.
As a parting thought, below is a song that should be considered the people’s campaign song in choosing a candidate and president.

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