Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 29, 2014

The Song Remains the Same

Republican candidates have been having all sorts of problems with their musical decisions these days.

Last week, news broke that ex-Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was being sued for using the classic motivational track “Eye of the Tiger” during his rallies. The same week, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) campaign was called out for paying his daughter Ayla and her band $9,500 to perform at campaign events.

A couple of days later, Gingrich’s rival and current GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney learned that he had hurt Somali-Canadian rapper K’Naan’s feelings by using his track “Wavin’ Flag” without asking permission.

Ever since President Ronald Reagan used Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” political candidates using commercial songs without asking permission is like a rite of passage. Tom Petty didn’t take kindly to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) appropriation of “American Girl.” Petty was joined by John Mellencamp and Sting in asking President George W. Bush not to use their tunes for campaign purposes.

One of our favorite cease-and-desist notices was sent in 2010 from Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh to Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh (R).

“Dear Mr. Walsh,” the letter from the former James Gang star’s attorneys began. “We represent Joe Walsh — not you.

“Joe wrote a song called ‘Walk Away.’ A lot of people know this song,” the lawyers insisted. “That is why when they heard your campaign song ‘Lead the Way,’ they noticed it was the same song as “Walk Away,’ but with peculiar lyrics.

“As a candidate for Congress,” they continued, “you probably have a passing familiarity with many of the laws of this great country of ours.

“It’s possible, though, that the laws governing intellectual property are a bit arcane and insufficiently populist for you to have spent much time on.”

The lawyers went on to walk then-candidate Walsh through the United States Copyright Act and trademark laws.

To view the letter, click here.

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