Can we have ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ back now?
BY THOMAS CONNER firstname.lastname@example.org November 6, 2012 5:29PM
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 08: American soul singer Al Green attends a press conference at The Famous Spiegeltent on January 8, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:33AM
On July 16, 1992, I was covering the Democratic National Convention in New York’s Madison Square Garden when Bill Clinton accepted the nomination. When he finished speaking, Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” blared from the sound system.
And repeated. Nine times.
All I could think was: Crap, another great song saddled with political baggage.
Many studies have been made of the meanings of music — particularly in light of candidates’ penchant for completely missing the irony in a lyric (for the last time, “Born in the U.S.A.” is not an uplifting song) — and this presidential campaign has furthered the arguments both for and against blasting a particular pop song at your whistle stop.
But once this campaign has, thankfully, ended, here are five songs I’d like to reclaim from the political arena:
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder
Obama calls Wonder his “musical hero,” and Wonder’s been performing this song at Obama events. A closer listen (“Like a fool, I went and stayed too long”) might make it a questionable choice for the occasions. Let’s hope the next socially conscious candidate ignores Wonder’s romantic gems and pulls out, say, his tale of hard-working families in Hard Time, Miss. (“Living for the City”).
“Man of Constant Sorrow” by the Soggy Bottom Boys
Who puts that title at the top of their campaign playlist? Romney, that’s who. “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” has a subplot about (literally) running a racist politician out of town on a rail.
“Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra
This one has a chorus about being away for too long. Plus, it’s too cheery and it’s my first-sunny-play-hooky-day-of-spring anthem, a desperately needed item in any Chicagoan’s seasonal music quiver. Knock it off.
“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
Talk about a song that has no business in politics. When you press play on Al Green’s opus, the last thing you should be thinking about is fiscal policy. But since Obama riffed on the Rev. Al’s opening lines last winter at Harlem’s Apollo Theater — and since Romney used the song and its video to mock Obama’s performance — this low-light classic has been used to score too many political points instead of, you know, actually scoring.
“Tough People Do” by Trace Adkins
Country star Adkins claimed he wouldn’t mind if Democrats also used this song — a moving, rumbling lyric of people built America tough — even though he performed it during the Republican convention. This one deserves bipartisan consideration.
“Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac
Clinton’s still taking the podium to this song. Like, just days ago. Seriously, stop.