Music & Politics

Does music play a role in national politics and especially in the political conventions of the two major parties in America? The answer is a resounding, yes!

Konzert- oder Festivalpublikum als Silhouette vor blauem Licht - Hunderte von Fans feiern mit erhobenen Haenden eine BandMusic plays a big part in both political parties, in the candidate’s conventions and in their individual campaigns for office. Music used in politics can be influential in supporting a political party or candidate; or it can be used to bring out the negative aspects of a political doctrine or candidate.

Clever spin doctors try to find music and lyrics that either enhance or detract from a candidate. If possible, they find music that advocates a partisan theme or opinion, making sure that it is primarily presented through radio and television. “It is not clear to what extent the political messages in and around music motivate fans, become a catalyst for discussion or function aesthetically,” said Pedelty, and Keefe. “Given the right historical circumstances, cultural conditions, and esthetic qualities, popular music can help bring people together to form effective political communities.”

In years past, the house band provided most of the music to introduce speakers and played music during pauses in the flow of a convention. There is always a need for music, such as the National Anthem, played usually at the start of conventions.

In more modern times, celebrity musicians are the norm rather than a house band.  These singers and musicians are usually very supportive of the party and presidential candidates. The nature of today’s music is usually pop and often rock oriented. Pre-recorded music is nearly always present.

Records indicate that music was present at early conventions dating back to 1860. During 1872, at the Republican Convention in Philadelphia, bands were out in the streets rallying people to get out the vote.  At the convention the band played a series of patriotic songs featuring, Hail Columbia, The Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle and the Battle Cry of Freedom. 

After the last piece, the crowd was on its feet with excitement and great enthusiasm. These songs were followed by: The Loyal League Initiation Hymn and the March to the Sea. Hail to the Chief was used to introduce the speaker to the convention. The New York Times reported that in the Republican Convention of 1888 in Chicago, the crowd was united in a rousing rendition of Marching Through Georgia.

Traditionally, the Democrats choose music and artists that appeal to a more youthful, liberal group; as opposed to Republicans who present music identified with older people that are usually more conservative.

In modern political conventions the media, more specifically, the television media, is playing a much more dominant role than ever before.

None of the media-driven elements of a convention is more prominent than the change of daytime activities to prime time hours of the evening.  This, of course, was designed to significantly increase viewer coverage. Consequently, music became even more important to introduce and enhance candidate’s recognition and appeal.

Another aspect of music at party conventions is the question of the legality of using music without permission.  Although it may displease some composers or artists who actively object to a party or candidate using their music; the Christian Science Monitor stated, “While the use of famous  songs by political campaigns at live events may displease the musician, it is likely not a copyright violation.”

Apparently, if a venue has a general performance license and is a live performance, then it is considered legal, said Michael Carroll, a law professor at American University in Washington D.C.

Some well-known songs used by politicians at conventions and elections are:

Happy Days Are Here Again, by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics), was the theme song of Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. High Hopes, by Sammy Cahn, was used by John F. Kennedy. Born in the USA, by Bruce Springsteen, was Ronald Reagan’s campaign song. Don’t Stop, by Fleetwood Mac, was Bill Clinton’s song. I Won’t Back Down, by Tom Petty, was George W. Bush’s campaign song. Eye of the Tiger, by Frank Sullivan, was used by Newt Gingrich. Born Free, by Kid Rock, was used by Mitt Romney. Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours, by Stevie Wonder, was Barack Obama’s campaign song You and I, by Celine Dion, is Hillary Clinton’s song We Are The Champions, by Queen, is Donald Trump’s campaign song.

The importance of music to enhance political campaigns cannot be measured. The identify it gives the candidate and the campaign becomes recognizable by the public when hearing the music. Without the music in political campaigns the anticipation, emotional effect, drama, fun and tremendous excitement would be missing.

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So, I guess you could say we’re going to have our own little Octoberfest; except this isn’t about sausages (pun definitely intended) and beer but about the life and times of Anthony Weiner.

I watched this movie and as I settled down at my computer, former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner was once again in the news. This time he was allegedly sexting with a 15 year old girl. My thought was: has he no shame?  Obviously, not so much.  I have to admit, I’m baffled. When I first heard about this documentary of his “big come back,” I was marginally intrigued. Firstly, he went down in flames in his bid for Mayor of New York City so there was no re-entry into politics.  Secondly, I suppose I was wondering why he even released the film since he failed.weiner

I spent the first part of the movie trying to figure out why. Then I decided to just sit back and relax. The film gives unusual insight into people who feel they are destined for leadership in the political arena. I’m not comparing Weiner to some of the great men who have served but I believe they probably have to have some of that sense of destiny in them.

Winner in the category of Best Documentary of 2016 at the Sundance Film Festival, Weiner is funny, witty, and confusing; I’m still wondering why he would expose his family to this degree.

Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s top aide for many years, is Mr. Weiner’s wife. A woman who has spent many years behind, beside and around Hillary yet she chooses to rarely be in the limelight. Huma is said to be highly qualified and Mrs. Clinton has said that she is like a daughter to her. They certainly have some similar life experiences.

To insure Weiner’s Mayoral win, Huma was front and center. She appeared with him, stood with him and even spoke for him. That had to be hard, yet she agreed to another indulgence of this man when they invited the public into their home, offices and vehicles to film Weiner. During this campaign there was yet another scandal involving a 22 year old woman who actually attempted to sabotage his campaign, appearing on TV and literally chasing him around NYC.

Anthony Weiner was born and raised in Brooklyn.  I truly believe he loves New York City. He served as a Member of the NYC Council from 1992-1998. He served 12 years in Congress from 1999-2011 resigning because of a sexting scandal. Huma stayed with him and in 2013 there was another scandal. It makes you wonder whether the behavior ever stopped or ever will. Does he realize what he is doing wrong? As I watched him in the film, I realized none of it was about the sexually explicit texts to many women (now girls), it was about how to spin whatever was happening to the media. I know this has to happen in every campaign to some degree but I am just sick and tired of the information I receive being altered, manipulated and managed by people who create a life of doing just that. How do they sleep at night?

Weiner makes you ponder. Politics is definitely a “glass house” kind of job. Many men and women of integrity have survived the transparency of the profession. As the media continues to take on a different role in campaigns, will voters become more critical or just jaded and desensitized. This film is educational and entertaining. Its R rated for language so not so much for the kids!  Let me know what you think at