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Gingrich, Strait, McBride and country music in campaigns

Jeffrey Remz  |  January 9, 2012

As sure as there is a political campaign, there is music to get the crowd revved up. The problem is that every four years, it seems that there is a disconnect between the candidate and the right to use the music.

Bruce Springsteen did not like it when Born in the USA, was co-opted by the Republicans. Last time around, I seem to remember that Tom Petty was none too pleased when his music was used.

At a rally in Manchester, N.H. on Sunday, Newt Gingrich paused a slew of country songs after the packed event concluded. Among the artists played were Brooks & Dunn (Only in America), George Strait (Heartland), Martina McBride (Independence Day and Toby Keith (can't quite remember, but one of his patriotic songs).

It seems as if at least some of the artists may not have given their nod of approval for using the songs.

"George never comments publicly on political views," said his publicist via email on Monday.

Keith's publicist indicated her client was in the dark. "No, Toby has not endorsed anyone. I have not heard that Toby's music is being played so I doubt Toby knows. This happens frequently with musicians and their songs," she said.

For the life of me, I can't understand why politicians - and I'm not looking to pick on Gingrich in particular (Mitt Romney played music after his Rochester, N.H. rally on Sunday, but it wasn't country. So, he's off the hook here) - pull the same stunt time after time.

I mean, at least get the okay to use the music. The pols knew the sensitivity for the artist (they have to be quite careful about who they align with in general), and they should not make like the singer is endorsing their candidacy by playing their music. You can bet your bottom dollar that Gingrich won't be the last presidential candidate to use music without permission, but it's about time the practice stopped.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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