We Built This City-- All of Us
The painfully mangled video above was posted by foreign right-wing propagandist, deranged Islamophobe and hatemonger Mark Steyn. He's trying to help elect Mitt Romney president and he's using the Jefferson Starship's intellectual property-- without their permission, of course; he's a Republican and that's how they role-- to make the ridiculous point about who deserves credit for building what. "We Built This" is something they obsess over on the fringes of the right-wing bubble. Romney was hoping to base his platformless campaign on this out-of-context remark. The Starship song was played over and over again on the closed-circuit sound system at the Republican Convention in Tampa.
The Jefferson Airplane was one of my favorite bands when I was in college and I booked them to play my college just as their second album, Surrealistic Pillow was released. We stayed friends for many years, even after the Airplane broke up and the (Jefferson) Starship was born. But by 1985 when they released the Bernie Taupin/Peter Wolf song, "We Built This City," (from their Knee Deep In The Hoopla album), the only one in the band I had any contact at all with was founder Paul Kantner. "We Built This City" was sung by Mickey Thomas, who I didn't know, and Grace Slick. It was a #1 smash single and the album went platinum.
Mickey Thomas, like many Starship fans, has been offended by the way the far right has expropriated his music and is using it to make Romney's silly-- and quite empty-- point. Here's what he told us about the way Steyn and other wingnuts connected to Romney are using one of the Starship's signature songs:
I am a very strong supporter of our president. I believe he has accomplished amazing things in the face of abject obstruction from the other party. I certainly don't appreciate their misuse of not only my music, but also my video. Once again they completely got it wrong and missed the point.
The "we" in the song was never meant to represent the Starship. To me the "we" was used and sung in the collective sense. It represents people everywhere who believe in the power of music to bring people together and make the world a better place. I resent the negative connotation they express in their use of the song. I believe the president was expressing some of the same ideas. I feel when we build something it is a collaborative effort. I think the president's "that" refers to bridges, roads, neighbors and all things that represent the unbelievable American system. We all benefit from the experience of those who came before us. You don't build things in a vacuum. Once again they attack the president on the very aspects of their own success.
I'm sure there are plenty of artists out there the Republicans can use to promote their misguided views. Starship is not one of them. Keep up the great work Mr. President. I believe the truth will not only endure, it will prevail.
The Republicans should make their propaganda videos from music based on Ted Nugent, Megadeth, Pat Boone and the Osmonds... and stop trying to steal music from all the artists who are appalled by Romney's and Ryan's reactionary and hateful dogma.