Sing Your Own Song!

So in a ritual that’s becoming actively tiresome, a presidential candidate appropriates a rock song and the writer/performer of said rock song objects strenuously. In the latest case, it’s all especially lurid since the appropriater of “Rockin’ in the Free World” is the xenophobic demagogue Donald Trump and the aggrieved rocker is Canadian Neil Young, who took occasion to let it be known that if he could vote in the U.S. he’d be voting for Bernie Sanders.

At the Daily Beast, James Joiner usefully provides a whole playlist of songs that spurred protests by artists against politicians trying to use their work without permission. This is probably the eternal best:

The practice of swiping music for political usages is so common that even though Joiner mentions three occasions when John McCain was publicly rebuked by musicians, he misses one (ABBA refusing to let him use “Take a Chance on Me” as his 2008 theme song).

Here’s what I want to know: with all the money sloshing around the political system these days, why can’t a candidate or his/her Super-PAC just commission new and candidate-specific music? It used to work in the old days.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.