THE BLOG

Tippecanoe and Kid Rock Too

12/13/2011 12:59 pm ET | Updated Feb 12, 2012

I may be the first person in the history of the world to even begin to think about saying the next sentence. Kid Rock got me thinking. He has my mind combing through campaign songs. If it takes such a mind-numbing phenomenon to get me to care, is there a possibility that these oft-middling song choices are irrelevant? At this point, I am left yearning for days gone by, because this stuff has been somewhere south of pointless since "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too."

And still, these songs persist. We can recount these musical selections with both fondness and horror. But while campaign songs have earned places in political and popular culture history, no campaign manager or candidate could have such foresight. From a musical perspective, some of the best choices have left men and women returning to their day jobs; some of the worst have propelled others to 1600 Pennsylvania; and there are those choices so bad they exist only to be mocked and soon forgotten.

I know what you're thinking. What about 1992? It tore through one of the greatest times in rock and roll history with all the fervor of a mediocre song on a great album. Punk had just broken out and here's a governor from Arkansas who wants us to not stop thinking about tomorrow. Let's see if we can wrap our mind around this for just a second. A song placed in the middle third of an album that came was released in 1977, is telling us to look forward. So is there a chance the man made the song? There's more than a chance. There's a certainty. At the time, Candidate Clinton could have made anything work. It was a good choice, because it was his choice. It wasn't desperate. It didn't pander. It wasn't even all that cool.

Happy days are not here again and no one has high hopes. It's the same story every election cycle. Republicans start with mainstream choices (from Tom Petty to Katrina and the Waves) until they are reminded that the majority of musical talent of the last half-century disagree with them. No, Sam Moore, I am not talking about you. "Dole Man" should, however, be enough to remove you from the list of the musically talented. And then, after a faux-legal battle these candidates of the right pick a country song with which their base will be mildly familiar. Democrats on the other hand choose their favorite Bruce Springsteen song, culled from the deep tracks of the same recycled five or so choices. Something tells me we haven't heard the last from "The Rising" or "No Surrender."

Why is this the one situation in which a speaker requires entrance music? No one is running from a dugout or coming to the plate. This is a chance to make those who otherwise think they are qualified to run the free world feel even better about themselves. If D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people, the presidential campaign trail is the Cooperstown for nerds. But in the end, who doesn't want to see a lot of middle-aged people dance on C-SPAN in a red, white and blue balloon-driven frenzy? I guess the songs can stay.