Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ is no GOP song

It’s one thing when an artist supports a political campaign and happily grants use of his or her music at its service. It’s quite another when a song is hijacked by a campaign against the artist’s wishes and used in a way that suggests the artist’s endorsement.

That happened last night at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN, when the 1977 chestnut Barracuda, by Heart, was played on the PA during a balloon drop for the convention finale. (For their finale, the Dems had 80,000 people. The GOP countered with what looked like 80,000 balloons.)

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were not amused. They quickly had their music publisher send a cease and desist order to the GOP, demanding that their song never be used again to serve the GOP cause.

The reason it popped up Thursday night wasn’t because the GOP adores classic rock so much as that VP nominee Sarah Palin got the nickname “Sarah Barracuda” for her competitiveness in high school sports.

Other performers also are understandably upset that their material is being used without their permission — including Van Halen, Orleans and the Four Seasons’ Frankie Valli.

Meanwhile, Sen. Barack Obama can use Stevie Wonder’s rich repertoire as much as he likes — and he does. Wonder, after all, is heartily on the Obama-Biden bandwagon and performed at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last week.

Beyond getting a proper OK from  composers, it would be nice if all candidates updated their theme songs a bit. Barracuda, of course, is 31 years old, while Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours, which Obama often has used, was co-written by Wonder 44 years ago. When the Clinton/Gore ticket won in 1992, they used Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop, which Christine McVie wrote in the same year as Barracuda. But at that time, it was only 15 years old.

Still, that’s not fresh, and I’d love to hear someone’s campaign, somewhere, use a tune by my favorite current band, the Killers. Their endorsement of a campaign is another issue, but for appropo song titles, two Killers tunes would’ve been perfect for the GOP finale: Smile Like You Mean It and Where the White Boys Dance. Just sayin.’

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2 Responses to “Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ is no GOP song”

  1. Denise Says:

    I am quite sure that HEART won’t be complaining when the royalties start flying in when folks all run out to get their own copy………want to bet on that one?

  2. farsider Says:

    Dear Denise:
    If Heart was all about royalties, instead of artists’ rights, integrity and just plain not supporting this ticket, they wouldn’t have balked at the GOP illegally using their song in the campaign. Besides, c’mon, this group has been performing for three-plus decades and shouldn’t need a few more dollars for a 31 -year-old song. Of course, if the GOP had gotten proper permission and paid their music publisher for rights to play the song, they’d already have some more money, but that’s water (or money) under the bridge. Bottom line: Heart wants no part of this ticket.
    –Bruce

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