posted at 11:06 am by mary
This is so interesting. If I tried to appropriate, say, Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted Snake” as the theme song* for this website, I would have ASCAP lawyers breaking down my door in a matter of seconds, and I’d probably have to fork over tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Heck, when you folks quote song lyrics in your essay submissions, we’ve started editing them out before we publish them – because you just can’t be too careful these days, at least not when you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spare. (Which we don’t.)
But when presidential candidates appropriate songs – broadcasting them to far more people than I ever could – all they get are sternly-worded statements from the artists themselves.
Remember when ladyrockers Heart laid the smackdown on ladypol Sarah Palin for using their song “Barracuda”? Well, John McCain’s campaign has run afoul of yet another band: the Foo Fighers are mad as hell that the GOP candidate is using their 1997 single “My Hero” as his new theme song, and they’re not going to take it any more. (Mmm, but what are the odds McCain will pay a dime in fines?) From the Guardian:
The band said that permission to use the song was not sought from them, their management, their label or their publisher.
“The saddest thing about this is that My Hero was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential,” the statement reads, although many fans have speculated that the song, written by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, refers to his admiration for former Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain.
“To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song. We hope that the McCain campaign will do the right thing and stop using our song — and start asking artists’ permission in general.”
Okay. John McCain’s music programming people? Even if you can’t figure out how to get permission for the songs you use, you could at least do a Google and doublecheck an artist’s political leanings, or his past response to having his songs appropriated by your party:
Were you crushed after the election?
Fuck, yes. I wanted to riot. But rather than write an angry Rage Against the Machine record, I wanted to give a sense of hope and release and faith. One of the reasons I did that with the Kerry campaign was because I was personally offended that George Bush was using [the Foo Fighters'] “Times Like These” at his campaign rallies. We were trying to think of a way to get him to stop. “Fuck, man, I’m gonna send the president a cease and desist order.”
Think this’ll be enough to get Grohl to revive his own political aspirations?
*I’m not saying I would pick “Cold Hearted Snake” as the theme song for Ruined Music. For one thing, it reminds me too much of junior high dances.
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