Sunday, July 02, 2006



Rhode Island's Future sent out an extensive questionnaire to the 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans who were running for the state's U.S. Senate Seat late last year. Both Republicans, incumbent Lincoln Chafee and Far Right nutcase Steve Laffey, ignored the request for an interview. The 3 Democrats responded to the 25 thoughtful and sometimes subtle questions which give a reader plenty of insight into where each man stands overall of everything from Iraq to Medicare to Bush's illegal wiretapping. But one question was particularly interesting to me: "If we were to look in your CD player right now, what 5 CDs would we find and why?"

Do you think anyone would use music taste as a factor in deciding on which candidate to support? Cultural affinity has long been an important factor and maybe there are people who identify so strongly with music that this is meaningful for them.

After a Far Right member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Dan White, assassinated the city's popular liberal mayor, the Democratic front-runner for the job was already-reactionary Dianne Feinstein. Jello Biafra, leader singer of the Dead Kennedys' took her on and got over 6,000 votes (nearly 4%). I was a dj at the time and I was supporting Biafra and played "California Uber Alles" and "Holiday in Cambodia" as frequently as possible in the runup to the election.

A quarter of a century later-- wow, time flies-- I was only too happy to remind people that George Bush's and Ann Coulter's favorite Democrat, Joe Lieberman, has been tirelessly working since the first day he darkened the door of the U.S. Senate on censoring the free expression of popular music. I couldn't wait to find out how his progressive challenger felt about music. I must admit that I don't really know what music Lieberman likes-- nor even how high the pitch must be for him to hear music-- but I do know, that like his hero George Bush, he tried appropriating the Orleans song "Still The One," much to the chagrin of the song's writer, John Hall, who is himself a candidate for congress against rubber stamp Republican Sue Kelly in Westchester County, New York.

The first time I met Ned Lamont we talked about music and when he made his candidacy official at a big party in Hartford, one of his staffers sent me the playlist. Ned walked out on stage to the familiar sounds of the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man," and walked off stage after his inspiring speech, to Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" and "Rock the Boat" by Inner Circle (a personal favorite which has become a kind of unofficial campaign song for him).

Earlier the party had kicked off with the music of a local band called The Kennedys and songs that Ned and his family enjoy: "Big Yellow Taxi" (Joni Mitchell), "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (Dylan), "This Land Is Your Land" (Woody Guthrie), "Get Up, Stand Up" (Bob Marley), "Ain't No Liberal" (The Foremen), "American Girl (Tom Petty), "Closer to Free" (The BoDeans), "Rebel Rebel" (Bowie), "Fight the Power" (The Isley Brothers), "Do You Believe in Magic?" (The Lovin Spoonful), "Howling at the Moon" (The Ramones), "It's the End of the World as We Know It (REM), "Volunteers" (Jefferson Airplane), "Start Me Up" (The Rolling Stones), "Stand" (REM). And as the party progressed, on came "A Beautiful Day" (U2), "Peace Train" (10,000 Maniacs), "The Best Day Ever" (Spongebob Squarepants), "Jump, Jive and Wail" (Louis Prima), "Walk of Life" (Dire Straits), "A Mi Manera (My Way)" (Gypsy Kings), "Forever Young" (Alphaville), "Chimes of Freedom" (The Byrds), the coolest remix of the Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac classic "Landslide," "Hard Traveling" (Woody Guthrie), "With a Little Help From My Friends" (Joe Cocker), "Stand By Me" (Ben E. King) and "Accentuate the Positive" (Dr. John). I'm sure I don't need to tell you that I've become an ardent supporter of Ned's campaign.

Now, back to Rhode Island. Matt Brown, who pulled out of the race a few months after the interview, was pretty concise and to the point: Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire, Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town, Harry Belafonte - Pure Gold, Patsy Cline - The Patsy Cline Story, and Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey. These are all great artists."

Carl Sheeler, probably the most progressive of the three, answered like this: "Depeche Mode, Dave Matthews, Enya, Sting and Moby. I like eclectic music with instrumental sounds. Most are ageless and unique. I like that."

And the frontrunner in the race, Sheldon Whitehouse, stretched out a little: "Most of the CDs you'd find are mixes by my son Alexander-- Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy, the Gorillaz, American HiFi... These days I'm also listening to Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson's Stardust, the Traveling Wilburys, and Paul Simon's Graceland."

Ready to go to the polls now?


At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had forgotten how hot Jello Biafra was in his day... and how frenzied those fans used to get. Notice, mostly boys in that picture.

Say, if Ned Lamont can get an actual *endorsement* from Spongebob Squarepants, that will sew up a key constituency. Joementum is history, in that case. I hope he is, anyway - see my posting earlier today on daily kos:

At 8:27 PM, Blogger Carl Sheeler For Senate said...

A fine overview. But will Sheldon have a slice and a bud or does he prefer a filet with his Chardonnay?


Post a Comment

<< Home