ROCK STARS TELL TRUMP: DON’T EXPLOIT OUR MUSIC FOR YOUR RALLIES
From the beloved opening lines of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to the rousing, children’s-choir conclusion of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies have been filled with classic songs whose authors and their heirs loudly reject him and his politics, Andrew Dalton wrote for the Associated Press (AP).
The Trump campaign can hardly play a song without the artist denouncing its use and sending a cease-and-desist letter. Neil Young, John Fogerty, Phil Collins, Panic! At The Disco and the estates of Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty and Prince are just a few of those who have objected.
Few have objected as adamantly as Young. The fiercely opinionated rock Hall-of-Famer is the rare musician who has gone beyond demands and filed a lawsuit over the repeated use of his songs. “Imagine what it feels like to hear ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ after this President speaks, like it is his theme song,” Young wrote on his website in July. “I did not write it for that.” That feeling that they’ve been drafted onto Team Trump clearly fuels many artists’ anger. Fogerty said he was baffled by Trump’s use of “Fortunate Son,” his 1969 hit with Creedence Clearwater Revival, whose condemnation of privileged children of rich men who did not serve in Vietnam sounds like a tailor-made slam of Trump. “I find it confusing that the president has chosen to use my song for his political rallies, when in fact it seems like he is probably the fortunate son,” Fogerty said in a video on Facebook in September. A cease-and-desist order has been sent to the Trump campaign.
Many social-media observers pointed out that, given its title, Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” was especially tone-deaf when it was played at Trump’s Oct. 14 rally in Iowa. Collins’ attorneys promptly demanded the campaign stop using the song. Petty’s widow and daughters, who had been fighting in court over his estate, united in their demand in June that Trump stop using his song, “I Won’t Back Down.” Cohen’s estate attorneys vehemently objected to the prominent use of “Hallelujah” during the final-night fireworks at the Republican National Convention in August, saying in a statement it was an attempt to “politicize and exploit” a song they had specifically told the RNC not to use. Cohen attorneys made the rare move of suggesting an alternative, whose title could be taken as a dig at Trump. “Had the RNC requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker,’” the lawyers said, “we might have considered approval.”