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10 Most Memorable Campaign Songs

Theme Music from the Modern Day Campaign Trail


Anyone who's been to a campaign rally recognizes that sound coming from the speakers: a modern pop tune, maybe a familiar classic from yesteryear, played to get the crowd's blood flowing before the main event, a stump speech by their candidate of choice. It's the campaign song, the use by politicians of catchy, uplifting and occasionally patriotic songs. Here are a few of the most memorable campaign songs.

Don't Stop, by Fleetwood Mac

Lindsey Buckingham
Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment

Former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton adopted the 1977 Fleetwood Mac hit "Don't Stop" for his successful campaign for president in 1992. The band reunited in 1993 to play the sond at the inaugural ball for Clinton. Clinton perhaps chose the song for its inspirational lyrics, which include the lines:

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

Born Free, by Kid Rock

Kid Rock
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Mitt Romney, the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee, chose the song "Born Free" by rapper/rocker Kid Rock. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, explained what many thought was an odd choice by saying the two shared a geographic connection: "He loves Michigan and Detroit and so do I." The song includes the lyrics:

You can knock me down and watch me bleed
But you can't keep no chains on me.
I was born free!

I Won't Back Down, by Tom Petty

Tom Petty picture
Samir Hussein/Getty Images Entertainment

Former Texas Gov. George W. Bush picked Tom Petty's 1989 hit "I Won't Back Down" for his successful 2000 campaign for president. Petty eventually threatened to sue the campaign for its unauthorized use of the tune, and Bush stopped playing it. The song includes the lines:

Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down

Barracuda, by Heart

Sarah Palin
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin chose to play the 1970s hit "Barracuda" at campaign events as a play on Palin's high school nickname. But the band Heart, the musicians behind the tune, objected and got the campaign to stop playing it. "Sarah Palin's views and values in no way represent us as American women," band members Ann and Nancy Wilson told Entertainment Weekly.

Crazy, by Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline
Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images

Independent Ross Perot, an eccentric billionaire, was one of the most unconventional presidential candidates in American political history. So his choice of campaign song, Patsy Cline's 1961 love song "Crazy," raised a few eyebrows, particularly among the critics who had dismissed him as such. The lyrics included the lines:

Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely
I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue
I knew you'd love me as long as you wanted
And then someday you'd leave me for somebody new

We Take Care of Our Own, by Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen photo
Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment

President Barack Obama chose everyman rocker Bruce Springsteen's "We Take Care of Our Own" to play following his acceptance speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Like Obama's speech, the Springsteen tune deals with the issue of social responsibility. It includes the lyrics:

Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own

This Land Is Your Land, by Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie Picture
John Cohen/Hulton Archive
Woody Guthrie's "This Land" is one of the most famous and overtly political folk songs in American history, so it's somewhat surprising both that it took nearly five decades for it to be adopted by a presidential candidate and that the candidate was Republican George H.W. Bush. Guthrie, who was associated with communists, dealt with the issues of liberty and property ownership in the song.

Fortunate Son, by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival picture
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

John Kerry, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts, was one of the wealthiest presidential candidates in history and facing scrutiny from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth over his military record. For his 2004 campaign he chose the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic "Fortunate son," about politically connected Americans who were able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam. The lyrics include the lines:

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don't they help themselves, oh.
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes.

Dole Man, by Sam and Dave

Sam and Dave photo
Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images

Here's a clever take on the campaign song: If you can't find one that suits your tastes, just make up your own words and set it to a catchy tune. That's what 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole did with the classic Sam and Dave song "Soul Man." One half of the duo, Sam Moore, rerecorded the 1967 hit and used the words "Dole Man." Instead of the lyric "I'm a soul man," the new campaign song went "I'm a Dole man."

America, by Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond picture
Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment

With lyrics like "Everywhere around the world, they're coming to America," Neil Diamond's "America" was practically begging to become a campaign song, and in 1988 it did. Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis adopted it as his own.

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