FROM ROLLING STONE:
Tom Petty Makes George W. Bush Back Down
Bush forced to stop using Petty song on campaign trail
cease-and-desist letter from Tom Petty proved to be a campaign heartbreaker for
George W. Bush, as the Presidential hopeful was forced to back off his use of
"I Won't Back Down." Though the letter was sent in February, its
existence (and Bush's reaction) only surfaced recently.
After Petty's 1989
single "I Won't Back Down" was used at Bush campaign events, publisher
Randall Wixen (of Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. and Gone Gator Music) wrote the
letter at the behest of Petty. It states, "It has recently come to
our attention that your presidential campaign has been using the
above-referenced song in connection with your presidential bid. Please be
advised that this use has not been approved . . . Any use made by you or your
campaign creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that
you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true."
In response, the
Bush campaign's general counsel Michael Toner sent a letter that agreed that
they would comply, but added, "We do not agree that the mere playing or use
of a particular song at a campaign event connotes any impression, either
intentional or unintentional, of endorsement."
Though the only
song officially sanctioned for use by the Bush campaign was "We the
People," written by Nashville scribe Monty Powell and performed by Billy
Ray Cyrus, Bush spokesperson Ray Sullivan says songs by other artists have been
used on the campaign trail "from time to time," depending on
"what CDs we brought with us that day."
practice has been troubling a number of musicians besides Petty, including Sting
and John Mellencamp, who found their songs "Brand New Day" and "R.O.C.K.
in the U.S.A.," respectively, being used without permission. "I don't
think that anybody that knows me would think I have the same position as
[Bush]," Mellencamp told Rolling Stone in August.
And with artists
like Petty making it into a legal matter, Bush's campaign is beginning to
rethink its musical policies. "We're now entering into agreements with
BMI and ASCAP to work out arrangements to pay for use of songs on the
road," Sullivan says.
The Bush campaign
created its own CD with songs to use on the
road. It now has black X's marked next to songs the campaign no longer plays
because of artists complaining. John Fogerty's "Centerfield," Los
Lobos' "La Bamba" and Tejano singer Emilio's "Juntos" are
still considered fair game.
"As our letter
says, we don't believe use of a song implies endorsement," Sullivan says,
"but when we're asked to stop, we generally respect the request and don't
use the song again."
There was no word
from Petty's management at press time.