Not all artists get angry when political figures appropriate their music for campaigns. Many people are aware how furious the Wilson sisters are about how McCain pirated the classic Heart song, "Barracuda," to further the mythologizing of right-wing extremist Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, though, every other songwriter in the world seems to be offering Obama old and new songs they want to see be used in a crusade to change the country.
Gary Wright's 1975 smash "Dream Weaver," is one of the most beloved, most inspiring, and most recognizable songs in the world. Like many people, I thought of Gary a couple weeks ago when the song was played as a kind of theme when Joe Biden's son was introduced at the Democratic Convention in Denver.
A couple days ago I asked Gary how he felt about it being used that way and where he stands politically. He told me he considers himself a progressive but that he's "not one for strictly adhering to one particular party. I vote for the person who I believe in." He told me he's been supporting Obama since the primaries and I asked him what it was about Obama that made him want to win the White House.
"I think it started with my total disillusionment with the Iraqi War and the total disregard Bush has for our environment, his practice of cronyism with his oil buddies that led to the rise of the price of gas." He reminded me of a People For the American Way event we had gone to together in September 2004, almost 4 years to the day. "Bill Moyers warned us to beware of George Bush because of his relationship to the conservative Christian right, the rapture and all that... and he predicted that the price of oil would dramatically rise during the last part of his term. And he was exactly right. So I was totally disillusioned and then I heard Obama and I thought he doesn't have a lot of experience but he has great ideas and charisma, a very magnetic person who is right on the money when he talked about our being involved in the wrong war and how we shouldn't have been in Iraq but fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. I like his attitude of engaging leaders. I know first hand-- I travel abroad a lot and I have a lot of friends in Europe-- that our foreign image is at an all time low. I feel Obama is someone who can turn that around."
Then he told me that after "Dream Weaver" was used at the convention, his wife, Rose, googled it with Obama's name and they found the YouTube clip, below. "Someone put it together and it was very, very inspiring. We both got teary eyed because it was so inspiring. I was very pleased and thought, 'Wow, what a great usage of my song.'"
With Wayne's World and all that, the perception of the song's meaning got a little bit changed for a lot of people. It's a very spiritual song. "Dream Weaver" is really a song whose lyrical content is about the consciousness of the Universe: God moving us through the night-- delusion and suffering-- into the Higher Realms. And when I saw that YouTube I thought, "this captures what the song is really about. I wrote it about Hope, moving through the Darkness into the Light of Hope."
Very inspiring! Twenty years after writing that song, Gary was -- as he still is -- still writing songs that elevate the soul and in 1995 the album First Signs Of Life was released. I just rooted around and found 20 rare promotional copies of a 3-song sampler from that album, "Don't Try To Own Me," "Better Get Up And Go," and "Arawa." I'd be happy to send the CDs to the first 20 people who donate at least $25 to any of the progressive candidates endorsed by Blue America. Just add one cent to your donation as a signal that you want me to send you the CD.