What is it with Republican candidates and Democrat musicians? Ever since Ronald Reagan tried to co-opt Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” for his 1984 election, GOP candidates have been repeatedly bitten for using songs against the wishes of their composers. Yesterday, according to The Associated Press, Jackson Browne settled a lawsuit with the Republican Party over John McCain’s use of Browne’s “Running on Empty” to criticize Barack Obama’s energy policy in TV ads. The settlement, which comes with an apology to Browne and an unspecified payment, stipulated that Republicans would no longer use music without permission. “This settlement is really a great affirmation of what I believed my rights to be, and all writers’ rights to be,” Browne told The Associated Press. “One would hope that a presidential candidate would not only know the law but respect it. It was a matter of bringing that issue to bear.”
For whatever reasons, you rarely hear about Democratic candidates screwing with musicians in this fashion. Tom Scholz of Boston, for example, accused Republican candidate Mike Huckabee of misappropriating “More Than a Feeling” during the 2008 presidential campaign. “By using my song, and my band’s name Boston, you have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed,” he wrote to Huckabee. “In other words, I think I’ve been ripped off, dude!” And A&M Record forced Louisiana Republican David Duke to stop playing (Canadian) Bryan Adams’s “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” during campaign rallies (although it was never clear why Duke would want to play it in the first place).