Campaigns hit sour notes

Published 10:02 am Friday, November 4, 2016

by Peter Funt

Win or lose, after Election Day it’s safe to assume that one or both of the presidential candidates will be singing a different tune.

Thank goodness for that.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign anthem, the inane pop tune “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, has some staffers covering their ears and many supporters tweeting disapproval. Why a potential president would choose to bound across the stage accompanied by the blaring lyric “wrecking balls inside my brain” is hard to figure.

Adapting popular songs for use on the stump goes back to the start of the 19th Century, but at least in John Adams’ case (“Adams and Liberty”) and James Madison’s (“Huzzah for Madison, Huzzah”) the ditties were literally about the campaigns.

Nowadays, do candidates even take note of the lyrics they’re promoting?

Clinton’s “Fight Song” says, “I don’t really care if nobody else believes,” which is antithetical to the entire purpose of a political campaign.

Donald Trump is frequently played on with the 1969 Rolling Stones tune “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which, if nothing else, seems to confirm Trump’s poll numbers. And the lyrics are reminiscent of what Trump and Billy Bush might sing on bus trips:

“I saw her today at the reception / A glass of wine in her hand / I knew she would meet her connection / At her feet was her footloose man.”

Mick Jagger has publicly disapproved of Trump’s use of the song, joining a list of artists who aren’t keen on such a connection. The British pop star Adele asked Trump to stop using her music after dozens of rallies at which he played “Rolling In the Deep,” and “Skyfall:”

“I know I’d never be me without the security of your loving arms keeping me from harm…”

Earlier this year, as Trump stoked fears about immigration he went so far as to read aloud lyrics of Al Wilson’s song “The Snake.”

It’s about a woman who helps a dying snake, only to have it fatally bite her. Trump’s audience was left to wonder if the message was about undocumented immigrants or a presidential candidate:

“‘Oh shut up, silly woman,’ said the reptile with a grin, ‘You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in!’”

During Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign in 2008 she conducted an online poll among supporters to find an appropriate rally song. She wound up using Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Taken’ Care of Business” and the somewhat odd selection of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5:”

“It’s a rich man’s game, no matter what they call it / And you spend your life putting money in his wallet.”

This time around, the Clinton campaign hired a music company to find the perfect tune. That led to Clinton’s Official Campaign Playlist of 23 songs, all less than two decades old. Among them Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger:”

“You think you got the best of me / Think you’ve had the last laugh / Bet you think that everything good is gone / Think you left me broken down…”

Watching Clinton, 69, and Trump, 70, dance to the beat of these modern drummers is enough to make you yearn for FDR’s theme, “Happy Days Are Here Again” or Harry Truman’s totally sappy yet spot on, “I’m Just Wild About Harry.”

H. Ross Perot had the properly prescient tune when he ran as an independent. His rally song, even more appropriate today than in 1992, was Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.”

PETER FUNT can be reached at He is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at and