Whether he was lobbying for a John Mellencamp endorsement for his presidential bid or simply looking for a rousing, all-American song to rally his supporters, we will never know. Because, according to Rolling Stone, the popular heartland rocker has quietly asked Republican Sen. John McCain to stop playing "Our Country," "Pink Houses" or any other Mellencamp tune at his political events.
Mellencamp, a balladeer of middle class sufferance, is a Democrat and, until recently, a supporter of John Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign. In fact, Mellencamp even interrupted a performance of his song "Small Town" at an Iowa concert so that the former North Carolina Senator could let it be known to the crowd that he too came from a small town. The crowd had a mixed response, as you can imagine.
But this leaves McCain in a real bind. With his campaign gathering support and delegates, now comes the time for his staff to nail down a campaign song. And, during this stormy political season, Toby Keith is just not going to cut it.
Though a Republican, McCain is still a folksy man-of-the-people, a war hero, a gritty underdog who all-out demands a good American-penned tune. But with patriotic artists like Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp off-limits to conservatives, where does he turn?
But, seriously. Are the candidates even listening to these songs? As The Washington Post points out, Hillary Clinton plays Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" to rouse her supporters. Which is great until you get hear: "People see you having fun/Just a-lying in the sun/Tell them that you like it this way/It's the work that we avoid/And we're all self-employed/We love to work at nothing all day." An audacious campaign pledge, to be sure. Mitt Romney has used Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation," a song that is definitely not about the U.S. budget deficit, while Sen. Barack Obama often plays Aretha Franklin's "Think," which is pretty much about infidelity.
But maybe it's wrong to scrutinize these lyrics. A campaign song should capture an emotion, project a familiar tune and somehow relate these positive feelings to a weary candidate who is about to step up to the podium and talk about ethics reform for 35 minutes. See? Keep playing the songs.
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