It's a story that gets retold in every election cycle: a political candidate -- and let's face it, it's almost always a Republican candidate -- plays a rock song at a campaign event, and before the rally is over the artist identified as the soundtrack provider is issuing statements of condemnation. This year, this fate has befallen Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump. But all anyone wanted to do was rock out!
Is there any way to bridge this divide? On this week's "So That Happened," we're hoping to find out. We enlisted the help of musician and songwriter Ted Leo, who understands where many rock musicians are coming from and also understands the soul of a rock enthusiast well enough to have some forbearance for those politicos (like Rand Paul and Chris Christie) who can't give up their sincere rock fandom. (The segment with Leo starts at 15:16 in the clip below.)
Leo says that some obvious ideological divides play a role in the hostile reactions that the mainly conservative presidential candidates are evoking from the mainly liberal rock musicians on their campaign playlists. Indeed, the one example we could find of a musician asking a liberal politician to stop using their music was Sam and Dave's Sam Moore -- whose 2008 request to then-Senator Barack Obama was as polite as pie. But there is a deeper level to the musicians' desires, akin to not wanting to see their music in commercials, Leo notes. "In the same vein," he says, "you don't want this piece of your soul, this piece of your art that you've created, to become permanently attached to something in a kind of soundbite-y or soundtracked way."
"I've been asked to play rallies ... and I've done some, and not done others," Leo says, "There's always a little bit of conflict ... I cherish my ability to be a social critic through music, I don't necessarily want to be seen as cozying up too much to anybody in power."
Leo has gone a little out of his way to help one 2016er. Back in August, he and bandmate Aimee Mann teamed up with late night talk show host Conan O'Brien in an effort to get little-known Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee from 0% to 1% in the polls.
According to HuffPost Pollster, they are currently 40 percent of the way there.
This podcast was produced and edited by Adriana Usero and Peter James Callahan, engineered by Brad Shannon, with assistance from Christine Conetta.
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