Here We Go Again: Heart Unhappy With Use of ‘Barracuda’ By McCain Camp

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Following Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin’s introduction to the world, some have taken to calling her Sarah "Barracuda" Palin, which apparently presented an opportunity that the McCain/Palin Campaign could not pass up. At some point during the course of the Republican National Committee’s big to-do in St. Paul that ended last night, someone made the decision to play Heart’s hit track "Barracuda."

This was no doubt a tribute to the tough-as-nails reputation that Sarah Palin seems to be inspiring among her supporters, but Heart’s Nancy Wilson surely cannot be counted among them. In a statement from the fair-haired half of rock’s enduring sisters, Wilson said, "The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our Sarah Palin music. We hope our wishes will be honored."

This is strikingly familiar to the reaction of fellow rockers Van Halen when they learned that one of their songs, "Right Now" was also used during a recent McCain campaign event.

It’s not clear exactly which members of the group were offended by the use of their material, although former frontman Sammy Hagar, a well known Republican supporter, said he had no problem with it at all.

Apparently, the protest from Nancy Wilson fell upon deaf ears at the RNC, and "Barracuda" was used yet again during the finale of the event when Palin joined McCain onstage after his acceptance speech. This, as one might expect, did not sit particularly well with either of the Wilson sisters.

In a statement crafted by both Wilson sisters following the second use of their song, they said "Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The ‘barracuda’ represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there’s irony in Republican strategists’ choice to make use of it there."

I must confess that I did not expect the Presidential campaign to provide so much fodder for those of us who follow the classic rock scene. Although I admit it is a bit selfish on my part, I am rather enjoying all these squabbles over the use of various songs from some very well known classic rock artists.

So far, I have yet to hear word of any complaints from right-leaning rockers out there about any use of their material by the Obama campaign. I suppose there are a number of possible explanations for this. Maybe I just didn’t hear about it. Perhaps the Obama campaign did not use any material that originated with conservative artists or perhaps conservative artists don’t make as big a fuss over the use of their material.

In fact, there was a similar incident a while back when the Obama campaign used a track from country superstars Brooks & Dunn after the conclusion of his acceptance speech at the DNC. The track, entitled "Only In America," has been used repeatedly by Republicans in the past, including when Brooks & Dunn played it at the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2000.

At the 2004 GOP convention, Vice President Dick Cheney used it as his exit music following his speech. In addition, President Bush often used it while on the campaign trail four years ago, even asking Brooks & Dunn to play it live at rallies during the final week of the race.

When asked recently about the use of their material by the Obama campaign, Kix Brooks said, "Seems ironic that the same song Bush used at The Republican Convention last election would be used by Obama and the Democrats now. Very flattering to know our song crossed parties and potentially inspires all Americans."

It seems that Kix Brooks is a bit more open-minded about such matters than the Wilson sisters, Van Halen or Jackson Browne.

Frankly, I find all this bickering about the use of songs by politicians somewhat amusing. When you consider all the other things being done in Washington that are of questionable value to the average American, it seems to me that the use of a song or two by the political party you happen to oppose isn’t what well-paid artists should be laying in bed at night worrying about.

For more on this story, check out Entertainment Weekly.


  1. Layla September 7, 2008 at 1:30 am

    I have to disagree with you here.

    “When you consider all the other things being done in Washington that are of questionable value to the average American”

    The thing is, when you do consider all those things would you want your name and music associated with something you are opposed to? I totally understand where the musicians are coming from. To me, it seems like an endorsement if I hear someone’s music playing at nationally televised political convention.

    I understand why any musician would feel this way but even moreso in the case of Ann and Nancy who have had to endure the bullshit of sexism in their early career to see this embarrassing tactic of having a female VP based on her gender not her ability. Its very insulting to women who are independent thinkers and don’t buy into the games politicians play.

    Laylas last blog post..Winner of Aerosmith Quiz

  2. Real Rock News September 7, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Well, I tend to think their response was more due to the fact that the left-leaning Wilson sisters were upset by the use of their material by a right-leaning campaign, rather than as a noble stance against “the bullshit of sexism in their early career.”

    I suspect we would not have heard a peep from either Nancy or Ann Wilson if the Obama campaign had publicly used their material.

    I have no doubt that the Wilson sisters endured many struggles with sexism early on, in fact, I wrote about it some time back.

    This current issue has more to do with politics than anything else, I believe.

    And although I don’t personally align myself with either political party, I believe your statement that “…this embarrassing tactic of having a female VP based on her gender not her ability,” sounds like a reaction that may be fueled by a political affiliation.

    If we can look only at facts for just a minute, and stay clear of political mud-slinging, can we honestly say that a guy with a law degree who served as a state senator for seven years, and then served one term in the U.S. Senate has more “ability” than a gal with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications/journalism, who served as mayor of a small city for six years, and then governor of Alaska for nearly two years?

    As qualifications go, I’d call it a draw myself.

    You may believe it or you may not, but my regard for both major political parties is the same. Sure, there are positions on various issues from both sides that I agree with, but I lean neither left or right, and do not consider myself aligned with either the Democrats or Republicans

    This is the reason, on a personal level, that I dislike seeing celebrities using their status as a soapbox to speak out about politics. I’d much rather they just play their music, and keep their political views to themselves. With millions of fans, these celebrities (not just the Wilson sisters) who are so politically outspoken have much more influence than the average voter.

    On the other side of the coin, there are the lobbyists who probably have more influence over what happens in this country than any celebrity, but you don’t want to get me started on the current state of politics and government.

    I’ve always loved Heart’s music, but their hissy fit over the use of their song does not inspire me to crank up “Crazy on You” or “Magic Man” at the moment.

  3. William Geyer September 8, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Maybe the Wilson sisters should put their respective mouths where their money is: put a press release on Heart’s website telling Republicans NOT to buy their music or attend their concerts. Seems only right. Republicans have always supported classic rock acts even though 99.98 percent of the groups support Democrats. Republicans set politics aside because they love the music (and most of the lyrics!). I wonder if the Wilson sisters would have loved Led Zeppelin so much if Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were lifelong conservatives. The Wilson sisters have been exposed for the hypocrits they are.

  4. SLaird22 September 9, 2008 at 11:27 am

    99.8%? You are just making stuff up. Blatantly. But hey, as long as it helps your arguments.

    I like Brooks and Dunn’s stance. But some people have other stances. Wouldn’t you be pissed if someone used your song or image or something to promote something you were completely against? And look at what happened to the Dixie Chicks…the right wingers are just as extreme in their ridiculousness.

    SLaird22s last blog post..Generic Energy Drink Corner – Jolt Five-O

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