Ann and Nancy Wilson — the Seattle sisters better known as ’70s rockers Heart — on Thursday joined a cavalcade of musicians upset with John McCain for using their songs at campaign events. Heart’s lawyer fired off a cease-and-desist letter to the McCain campaign after Ann heard “Barracuda” playing at the Republican National Convention. The song played during the day and after McCain’s acceptance speech as delegates toasted Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, nicknamed “Barracuda” when she played high school basketball in the early ’80s.
The Heart sisters sent a statement to EW.com Friday morning:
“Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late ’70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The ‘barracuda’ represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there’s irony in Republican strategists’ choice to make use of it there.”
The McCain campaign could soon run out of inspirational rock anthems if the Republican’s “ownership society” includes getting permission from a song’s owners.
A week ago, Van Halen objected when McCain introduced Palin to the strains of “Right Now” at a Dayton, Ohio, rally.
Van Halen management tells us the band had no idea McCain was planning on using “Right Now” during his big entrance in Ohio telling us, “Permission was not sought or granted nor would it have been given.”
Earlier in the campaign, musicians Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp, and Rep. John Hall, a New York Democrat and founding member of the band Orleans, asked — and even sued — the McCain campaign to stop playing their music.
After a New Hampshire town hall meeting in June, McCain blasted “Still the One” to celebrate that state’s longstanding support for the Republican. The next day, Hall fired back:
“This is yet another example of John McCain not learning anything from George Bush’s mistakes,” Hall wrote First Read in an interview over e-mail. “First, McCain adopted Bush’s failed policy of an open-ended war in Iraq, then he wrapped his arms around the failed Bush economic policies that have put the squeeze on middle class families. Now, he’s making the same mistake George Bush made illegally using a copyrighted song without asking either the writers or the performers for permission.”
… Hall, in fact, who was elected to Congress in 2006, demanded Bush to stop using his song in 2004, issuing cease-and-desist letters to the sitting president’s presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee.
“What is at issue here is Senator McCain’s use of the song to try and advance an agenda that I do not support without respecting copyright law and intellectual property,” Hall continued.
Hall and the other members of Orleans allowed Hillary Clinton to use the song at her rallies this year.
Die-hard Democrat Mellencamp asked the McCain camp to stop playing “Our Country” and “Pink Houses”at rallies in January. Rolling Stone noted the irony of McCain using the populist rocker’s tunes:
Not to mention that the far-right types whose votes McCain is seeking won’t love the mildly progressive lyrics to “Our Country,” which call on the government to “help the poor and common man” and suggest that “there’s room enough here for science to live/ And there’s room enough here for religion to forgive.” And does McCain really want to associate himself with those “Pink Houses” lines about the “simple man” paying for the “the thrills, the bills and the pills that kill”?
Iconic singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, famous since the 1970s for his activism against nuclear power, sued the Republicans and John McCain when his “Running on Empty” appeared without his permission in a campaign ad about high gas prices.
The lawsuit claims the song’s use was an infringement of his copyright and will lead people to conclude he endorses McCain. The suit says Browne is a lifelong liberal who is as well-known for his music as for being “an advocate for social and environmental justice.” …
Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio party, said the ad was pulled when Browne objected. He called the lawsuit a “big to-do about nothing.” …
Browne’s attorney, Lawrence Iser, called the ad’s use of the song “reprehensible.”
The 59-year-old singer claims his reputation has already been damaged and is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.