April 19, 2004

Campaign Theme Songs

Posted by Ed

Sometimes I think that the biggest problem with contemporary American politics is that people take it too seriously. A case in point: as I graded papers this evening, I played my new DVD of Robert Drew's 1960 documentary Primary in the background. This film tells the story of John F. Kennedy's campaign against Hubert Humphrey in the 1960 Wisconsin primary and ends with a stirring conclusion: it plays a 1960 Humphrey theme song that was written to the tune of "Davey Crockett"! Can anyone imagine a serious presidential campaign playing such a cheesy tune these days?

I wonder exactly when it was that American politicians quit playing silly campaign theme songs. (Most political theme songs today are just regular songs that politicians frequently play at rallies; Bill Clinton rallies often featured Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," for instance.) When did this change come about? What does it say about larger changes in American politics? These days, the only politician I know of with an original campaign theme song is Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for the Senate here in Illinois. Is it a coincidence that he's a fantastic candidate?

Posted by Ed at April 19, 2004 09:49 PM

Obama's song is completely fantastic, mostly because it features his last name heavily in the chorus.

On a slightly unrelated note, I remember being very curious about the nature of Clinton's campaign when I confused "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" with "You Can Go Your Own Way".

If anyone's interested in Campaign Songs of the Past, there are an interesting bunch (as well as some other political songs) assembled at http://parlorsongs.com/issues/2002-11/thismonth/feature.asp . My favorite is McLellan's "Little Mac! Little Mac! You're The Very Man!"

Posted by: susan at April 19, 2004 10:00 PM

Kucinich had one. But then, his was hardly a typical campaign.

Posted by: Brian Ulrich at April 20, 2004 12:45 PM

You know he's solid as a rock!

Say it again, say it again....

(My prediction: 4 Grammies -- Best New Artist, Best R&B Song, Best Single, and Sportsmanship Award.)

Posted by: Jared at April 21, 2004 11:36 PM

Hello folks nice blog youre running

Posted by: lolita at January 19, 2005 08:54 PM

Take a look at the following website for an unique campaign song by a blues-rock-funk guitar player and singer, Anthony Gomes.

Website for Richard Irvin, Candidate for Mayor

Posted by: Openline at March 13, 2005 02:16 AM

Hi there. Interesting site. I'm currently trying to come up with a theme song for my campaing in the May 05 election (in about four weeks time!!!) as I'm standing for Labour in the school mock elections.

The Clinton Fleetwood Mac one is a good ides; I'm also thinking of 2 Unlimited 'No Limit', and Louis Armstrong's 'Wonderful World'.

The best political theme I've heard was the 1997 Labour 'Things can only get better' theme. It encapsulated the tone of the nation, and won them a huge landslide, ending 18 dire years of Tory rule.

Posted by: Aoife at April 6, 2005 08:29 AM

A picture of Anthony Gomes, Jim Peterik (Survivor) and Biscuit Miller is at:


Posted by: Openline at April 12, 2005 02:31 AM
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