Legend has it that during Ronald Reagan's first run for president, his wife Nancy suggested he use Bruce Springsteen's popular anthem "Born in the U.S.A." as a campaign song, maybe to siphon off the youth vote. So Nancy arranged for a backstage visit following one of Springsteen's shows. As they were waiting to meet him, Nancy realized Ronnie might not be as prepped as he should be. So she turned to him and asked, "Ronnie, do you know who The Boss is?" Reagan replied, "Why, you're the boss, Mommy!"
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Okay, we made up that last part. But the idea of using pop songs as campaign themes still makes sense. Ever since Bill Clinton famously used Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" for his first presidential bid, various candidates have dabbled in repurposing pop songs as a way to bait the Baby Boomers. Here, then, are some of our suggestions for this year.
For Obama, the obvious choice is "Changes" by David Bowie. Hell, that's all we hear the guy talk about — change you can believe in, change is needed, change for the vending machine ... whatever. Instead, he has tapped Aretha Franklin's "Think," with its ominous warning "Think about what you're trying to do to me." On the other hand, for all of those who thought they'd never see an African-American in a race for the White House, Blondie's "Dreaming" might prove inspirational. Granted, some people are saying they don't know all that much about him, so asking the Eagles for permission to use "New Kid in Town" could also be a good idea. That is, unless Sarah Palin claims it first. We hear she's leaning toward Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar." But if she doesn't change that standard stump speech of hers, it will morph into "I Am Woman, Hear Me Bore."
presidential theme songs
John McCain's choices seem all too obvious. "Old Man" by Neil Young is a clear contender, although using John Hiatt's "Same Old Man" from his recent album of the same name would be one way to affirm Mac is a gruff, no-nonsense kind of guy. When he received Daddy Yankee's endorsement, he might have had the option of using the rapper's ditty "Gasolina" but probably backed off, fearing a backlash due to surging fuel costs. On the other hand, the Democrats' charge that he'd give us four more years of Bush might make the Four Tops' "Same Old Song" more relevant. That allegation clearly pisses the guy off, so to curb his crankiness, the Republicans could slip the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" into the mix. He could also emphasize the fact that this isn't his first election — or even his first presidential bid — which gives cause to borrow the Boss's "Born to Run."
Still, given the nation's financial crisis, the best bet for both candidates might be any song that deals with the dollars. Take "Money" by Pink Floyd; it not only reflects the cash crunch but also purveys a psychedelic scenario. And judging from the way things are going in this country, we don't think there's much difference between what's real and surreal anyway.