Dont Stop Thinking About the Music: The Politics of Songs and Musicians in Presidential Campaigns

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Below is a table of musical selections I have learned of in various articles; it is by no means exhaustive, but it does represent many of the songs Trump uses regularly, as cited by a number of journalists who have attended Trump rallies. There are many observations that can be drawn from this list: At the beginning of the decade, America was in the greatest recession since the s; by , Ronald Reagan was campaigning on the strength of the economic recovery that occurred during his presidency.

And emphasizes, in the way two of his most noted supporters—Ann Coulter and the late Phyllis Schlafly—point out in their most recent books that Trump is the most plausible, if peculiar, reinvention of Reagan since Reagan left office. Do they go to the opera? Do they prefer hair metal bands, or calm Beatles melodies? When considered as a whole, his selections seem to point to a period and to a national character that many staunch conservatives praise—even those conservatives who refuse to support Trump.

The Unwelcome Use of Musical Artists and Their Songs by Presidential Candidates

The oldest songs on the list were Mary J. Perhaps the most commented upon song Clinton uses is also one of the songs she plays the most: Campaign music is most powerful when it unites and excites supporters. Because it can create a community of people sharing similar beliefs, music has the potential to assist in transforming supporters into voters.

Pantheon Books, , Oxford University Press, , Perceptions, Policies, Legacies , ed. Cheryl Hudson and Gareth Davies London: The song " We Shall Overcome " is perhaps the best-known example of political folk music , in this case a rallying-cry for the US Civil Rights Movement. Pete Seeger was involved in the popularisation of the song, as was Joan Baez. The most famous songwriter of the early 20th century " Wobblies " was Joe Hill. Later, from the s through the s, groups like the Almanac Singers and The Weavers were influential in reviving this type of socio-political music.

The folk revival can be considered as a political re-invention of traditional song, a development encouraged by Left -leaning folk record labels and magazines such as Sing Out! The revival began in the s [12] and continued after World War II. Folk songs of this time gained popularity by using old hymns and songs but adapting the lyrics to fit the current social and political conditions.

Lloyd performed similar roles, with Lloyd as folklorist [17] and MacColl often with Peggy Seeger releasing dozens of albums which blended traditional songs with newer political material influenced by their Communist activism. In the later, post-war revival, folk music found a new audience with college students, partly since universities provided the organisation necessary for sustaining music trends and an expanded, impressionable audience looking to rebel against the older generation.

As McCarthyism began to dominate the United States population and government, it was more difficult for folk artists to travel and perform since folk was pushed out of mainstream music. In general, the significance of lyrics within folk music reduced as it became influenced by rock and roll. Blues songs have the reputation of being resigned to fate rather than fighting against misfortune, but there have been exceptions.

Bessie Smith recorded protest song "Poor Man Blues" in Josh White recorded "When Am I Going to be Called a Man" in — at this time it was common for white men to address black men as "boy" — before releasing two albums of explicitly political material, 's Chain Gang and 's Southern Exposure: An Album of Jim Crow Blues. Billie Holiday recorded and popularised the song " Strange Fruit " in In the post-war era, J. Lenoir gained a reputation for political and social comment; his record label pulled the planned release of single "Eisenhower Blues" due to its title [27] and later material protested civil rights, racism and the Vietnam War.

The State Department denied Robeson a passport and issued a "stop notice" at all ports, effectively confining him to the United States.

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In a symbolic act of defiance against the travel ban, labour unions in the U. He returned to perform a second concert at the Peace Arch in , [31] and over the next two years two further concerts were scheduled. Disco , contrary to popular opinion, originated in Black queer communities and offered these communities a form of salvation or safe haven from social turmoil during the s, in the Bronx and other parts of New York.

It was agreed by many members prominent in the Disco scene that the music was about love and the vitality of "absorbing the feeling", but the question regarding its political import received mixed responses. Not only did discos allow marginalized individuals an opportunity to express their sexuality and appreciate one another's diversity, they had the ability to influence popular music. Although once mutually exclusive, discotheques allowed for the coming together of black music and pop; this shows how disco music not only led to a social appreciation for diversity, but offered a platform on which Black artists could succeed.

The eventual commercialization of disco set in motion its decline. This new commodified disco, very different than its diverse and queer roots, idealized the white individual and favored heteronormative relations. This not only allowed for the roots of such a diverse movement to be lost, but the erasure of the liberation and escapism it offered many minorities. Although public attention shifted to rock music from the mid s, folk singers such as Joan Baez and Tom Paxton continued to address political concerns in their music and activism.

Paxton albums such as Outward Bound [34] and Morning Again [35] continued to highlight political issues. Christy Moore has also recorded much political material, including on debut solo album Paddy on the Road , produced by and featuring songs by Dominic Behan, and on albums such as Ride On including " Viva la Quinta Brigada " , Ordinary Man and various artists LP H Block to which Moore contributed "Ninety Miles from Dublin", in response to the Republican prisoners' blanket protest of the late s.

Folk music had a strong connection with politics internationally. Hungary , for instance, experimented with a form of liberal Communism in the late Cold War era, which was reflected in much of their folk music. In Communist China , exclusively national music was promoted. A flautist named Zhao Songtim — a member of the Zhejiang Song-and-Dance Troupe — attended an Arts festival in in Mexico but was punished for his international outlook by being expelled from the Troupe, and from to underwent "re-education".


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In he returned to the Troupe but was expelled again following accusations. An example of folk music being used for conservative, rather than radical, political ends is shown by the cultural activities of Edward Lansdale , a CIA chief who dedicated part of his career to counter-insurgency in the Philippines and Vietnam. Lansdale believed that the government's best weapon against Communist rebellion was the support and trust of the population.

In he arranged for the release of a campaign song widely credited with helping to elect Philippine president Ramon Magsaysay , an important US anti-communist ally.

The Unwelcome Use of Musical Artists and Their Songs by Presidential Candidates | Trax on the Trail

Duy had written topical songs popular during the anti-French struggle but then broke with the Communist-dominated Viet Minh. The use of political lyrics and the taking of political stances by rock musicians can be traced back to the s counterculture , [67] specifically the influence of the early career of Bob Dylan, [8] itself shaped by the politicised folk revival.

During the s and early s counterculture era, musicians such as John Lennon commonly expressed protest themes in their music, [68] for example on the Plastic Ono Band 's single " Give Peace a Chance ". Lennon later devoted an entire album to politics and wrote the song Imagine , widely considered to be a peace anthem. Its lyrics invoke a world without religion, national borders or private property. Dylan was influenced by the folk revival, as well as by the Beat writers, and the political beliefs of the young generation of the era. The MC5 Motor City 5 came out of the Detroit , Michigan underground scene of the late s, [69] and embodied an aggressive evolution of garage rock which was often fused with socio-political and countercultural lyrics, such as in the songs "Motor City Is Burning", a John Lee Hooker cover adapting the story of the Detroit Race Riot to the 12th Street Detroit Riot , and "American Ruse" which discusses U.

MC5 was the only band to perform a set before the Democratic Convention in Chicago , as part of the Yippies ' Festival of Life where an infamous riot subsequently broke out between police and students protesting the recent assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since the late s, punk rock has been associated with various left-wing or anti-establishment ideologies, [70] [71] [72] including anarchism and socialism. Punk's DIY culture held an attraction for some on the Left , suggesting affinity with the ideals of workers' control , and empowerment of the powerless [73] though it is arguable that the punk movement's partial focus on apathy towards the establishment, combined with the fact that in many situations, punk rock music generated income for major record companies, and the notable similarities between some strains of anarchism and capitalism, meant that the punk movement ran contrary to left-wing ideologies — and the genre as a whole came, largely through the Sex Pistols , to be associated with anarchism.

The sincerity of the early punk bands has been questioned — some critics saw their referencing of revolutionary politics as a provocative pose rather than an ideology [74] [75] — but bands such as Crass [76] and Dead Kennedys [77] later emerged who held strong anarchist views, and over time this association strengthened, as they went on to influence other bands in the UK anarcho-punk and US hardcore subgenres , respectively.

The Sex Pistols song " God Save the Queen " was banned from broadcast by the BBC [78] in due to its presumed anti- Royalism , partly due to its apparent equation of the monarchy with a "fascist regime". The following year, the release of debut Crass album The Feeding Of the was initially obstructed when pressing plant workers refused to produce it due to sacrilegious lyrical content. The Clash are regarded as pioneers of political punk, and were seen to represent a progressive, socialistic worldview compared to the apparently anti-social or nihilistic attack of many early punk bands.

Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra , as well as T. However, some punk bands have expressed more populist and conservative opinions, and an ambiguous form of patriotism , beginning in the U. S with many of the groups associated with s New York hardcore , [87] and prior to that in the UK with a small section of the Oi!

A political tradition

An extremely small minority of punk rock bands, exemplified by s-era Skrewdriver and Skullhead , have held far-right and anti-communist stances, and were consequently reviled in the broader, largely Leftist punk subculture. Rock the Vote is an American c 3 non-profit , non-partisan organization founded in Los Angeles in by Jeff Ayeroff for the purposes of political advocacy. Rock the Vote works to engage youth in the political process by incorporating the entertainment community and youth culture into its activities.

Later in the decade hip hop band Public Enemy became "perhaps the most well-known and influential political rap group" [95] and released a series of records whose message and success "directed hip-hop toward an explicitly self-aware, pro-black consciousness that became the culture's signature throughout the next decade," [96] helping to inspire a wave of politicised hip hop by artists such as X Clan , [97] Poor Righteous Teachers , [98] Brand Nubian , [99] 2 Black 2 Strong [] and Paris. Popular music found throughout the world contains political messages such as those concerning social issues and racism.

For example, Lady Gaga's song "Born This Way" has often been known as the international gay anthem, [] as it discusses homosexuality in a positive light and expresses the idea that it is natural. Furthermore, the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina received a great political response from the Hip hop music community. The content of the music changed into a response showing the complex dynamic of the community, especially the black community, while also acting a sometimes contradictory protest of how the disaster was handled in the aftermath.

Racist music or white power music is music associated with and promoting neo-Nazism and white supremacy ideologies. By there were many music genres with 'white power rock' the most commonly represented band type, followed by National Socialist black metal. Inside Hate Rock noted that Racist music also called 'Hate music' and 'Skinhead rock' is "a breeding ground for home-grown terrorists.


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American country music contains numerous images of " traditional " life, family life, religious life, as well as patriotic themes. Songs such as Merle Haggard 's " The Fightin' Side of Me ", and " Okie from Muskogee " have been perceived as patriotic songs which contain an "us versus them" mentality directed at the counterculture " hippies " and the anti-war crowd, though these were actually misconceptions by listeners who failed to understand their satirical nature. Beethoven 's third symphony was originally called "Bonaparte". In Napoleon crowned himself emperor, whereupon Beethoven rescinded the dedication.

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Verdi 's chorus of Hebrew slaves in the opera Nabucco is a kind of rallying-cry for Italians to throw off the yoke of Austrian domination in the north and French domination near Rome —the "Risorgimento". Following unification, Verdi was awarded a seat in the national parliament. In Stalin gave them his backing.


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