11. Green Party with Ralph Nader (2000)
How many times has Ralph Nader run for President of the U.S.A.? How many times has he lost? Alright, so he’s never won–big deal. But, how many presidential candidates had Pearl Jam, Ani DiFranco and Ben Harper together on the same bill for a campaign concert? How many candidates had Adrock of the Beastie Boys remix a campaign speech?
Ralph Nader. Proving once again, that they’re ain’t no party like a Ralph Nader party!
(left: “Yo, you need someone to lay down a dope freestyle? Here, pass me the microphone.”)
12. Vote…or Die! (2004)
P Diddy introduces “Vote or Die” Campaign.
13. Vote For Kinky (2006)
Singer-songwriter, Kinky Freidman, runs for Governor of Texas.
14. When Betty Ford Asks…(1976)
Captain & Tennille were invited by First Lady Betty Ford to perform “Muskrat Love” in the East Room of the White House for Queen Elizabeth II and President Ford during the Bicentennial celebration.
15. Rockin’ On the White House Lawn (1986-88)
President Reagan begins “A Tribute to American Music” concert series on the White House Lawn (unfortunately, The Violent Femmes were left off the guest list).
16. Twisted Sister and The Terminator (2003)
As a kid growing up in the 80’s, if you told me that one day Dee Snider of Twisted Sister would join Arnold Schwarzenegger at a campaign rally and sing “We Ain’t Gonna Take It” (which by the way would be the former Mr. Olympia’s official campaign song), I’d have to do my best Gary Coleman, “What you talking ’bout Willis?!”
(right: I’d write a pun here playing on one of Schwarzenegger’s movie quotes, but I’m pretty sure they were ALL used during this campaign.)
Oddly enough, it happened in 2003, and even more mind-numbing than that, consider that Snider may have had more experience in the political arena than the eventual governor of California. Remember when Snider went head-to-head with Tipper Gore at the music censorship Senate hearings in 1985?
17. Ronald Reagan vs. The Boss (1984)
There are varying stories, but during the 1984 Presidential Campaign, Reagan staffers apparently wanted to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” as their official campaign song, which ironically told the story of a struggling Vietnam veteran unable to find work. Riding the wave of the hit record, Reagan also name-dropped Springsteen during a campaign stop in New Jersey. A little agitated, The Boss responded a couple days later by dedicating a song to the President, “Johnny 99,” a tune about an unemployed auto-worker who is arrested and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
18. The Truman Show (1950)
President Truman’s daughter Margaret embarks on a singing career and is panned by Washington Post critic, the President wrote a threatening angry letter in response.
19. Using Mellencamp to Tug at the Heartstrings (2008)
Candidates all simultaneously start using John Mellencamp songs about the heartland at their rallies. Mellencamp asks only John McCain to stop. Ouch.
20. The Dixie Chicks Diss Bush (2003)
I remember it like yesterday. While visiting Texas, I read a front-page news story lambasting Dixie Chick Natalie Maines for saying the following at a London tour stop: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”
(left: Just like my momma used to say: “Ain’t no better way to settle a political controversy than to get naked on Entertainment Weekly and cover yourself in Sharpie marker.”)
I thought to myself, “Wow, must be a slow news day in Texas.” Little did I know that this immediately turned into a national news story. Trust me, I’ve heard far worse said about the President at numerous concerts, so I was shocked to find out that a good chunk of the population was protesting the Dixie Chicks (seriously?!). Fortunately for the gals, they channeled their anger, wrote a song about it, “Not Ready To Make Nice,” and won multiple Grammys in the process.