Campaign song

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Campaign songs are songs used by candidates or political campaigns. Most modern campaign songs are upbeat popular songs or original compositions that articulate a positive message about a campaign or candidate, usually appealing to patriotism, optimism, or a good-natured reference to a personal quality of the candidate such as their ethnic origin or the part of the country they are from. In some cases, the campaign song can be a veiled attack on an opposing candidate or party. The use of a campaign song is primarily known in the quadrennial United States presidential election, where both major party candidates usually use one or more songs to identify with their campaign.

History in the United States[edit]

The origin of campaign songs were partisan ditties used in American political canvasses and more especially in presidential contests. The words were commonly set to established melodies like "Yankee Doodle," "Hail, Columbia," "Rosin the Bow," "Hail to the Chief" "John Brown's Body," "Dixie" and "O Tannenbaum" ("Maryland, My Maryland"); or to tunes widely popular at the time, such as "Few Days," "Champagne Charlie," "The Wearing of the Green" or "Down in a Coal Mine," which served for "Up in the White House." Perhaps the best known of them was "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," (in which words by Alexander C. Ross were adapted to the folk tune, "Little Pigs"). First heard at Zanesville, Ohio, this spread rapidly over the country, furnishing a party slogan. It has been said: "What (La Marseillaise) was to Frenchmen, 'Tippecanoe and Tyler Too' was to the Whigs of 1840." In 1872 an attempt was made to revive the air for "Greeley Is the Real True Blue." The words, sometimes with music, of campaign songs were distributed in paper-covered song books or "songsters." Among these were the Log Cabin Song Book of 1840 and Hutchinson's Republican Songster for the presidential campaign of 1860, compiled by J. W. Hutchinson. For many years national campaigns included itinerant stumpspeakers, live animals, fife-and-drum corps, red fire, floats, transparencies and rousing mass meetings in courthouses and town halls. Glee clubs were organized to introduce campaign songs and to lead audiences and matchers in singing them. The songs were real factors in holding the interest of crowds, emphasizing issues, developing enthusiasm and satirizing opponents. With changes in the methods of campaigning, the campaign song declined as a popular expression.[1]

Presidential campaign songs[edit]

Election Candidate Song Songwriter / Lyricist
1800 John Adams
"Adams and Liberty" John Stafford Smith and Robert Treat Paine Jr.
1808 James Madison
"Huzzah for Madison, Huzzah"
1824 John Quincy Adams
"Little Know Ye Who's Coming"
Andrew Jackson
"The Hunters of Kentucky" Samuel Woodworth
1828 Andrew Jackson
(Democratic · campaign)
1840 William Henry Harrison
"Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" Alexander Coffman Ross
Martin Van Buren
"Rock-a-bye Baby" Traditional
1860 Abraham Lincoln
"Lincoln and Liberty" Jesse Hutchinson
1864 "Battle Cry of Freedom" George F. Root
1920 Warren G. Harding
"Harding, You're the Man for Us"[2] Al Jolson
1928 Al Smith
"Sidewalks of New York" Charles B. Lawlor and James W. Blake
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Happy Days Are Here Again" Milton Ager and Jack Yellen
1948 Harry S. Truman
"I'm Just Wild About Harry" Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle
1960 John F. Kennedy
"High Hopes" Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson
"Hello, Lyndon!" Jerry Herman (performed by Carol Channing)[3]
Barry Goldwater
(Republican · campaign)
"Go with Goldwater" Tom McDonnell and Otis Clements
1968 Richard Nixon
(Republican ·
1968: campaign)
"Nixon's the One" Moose Charlap and Alvin Cooperman
1972 "Nixon Now" Ken Sutherland, performed by the Mike Curb Congregation
George McGovern
(Democratic · campaign)
"Bridge over Troubled Water" Paul Simon
1976 Jimmy Carter
"Ode to the Georgia Farmer" K.E. and Julia Marsh
"Why Not the Best" Oscar Brand
Gerald Ford
"I'm Feeling Good About America" Robert K. Gardner
1980 Ronald Reagan
(Republican ·
1980: campaign)
"California, Here I Come" Buddy DeSylva and Joseph Meyer
1984 Walter Mondale
"Gonna Fly Now" Bill Conti
1988 George H. W. Bush
"This Land Is Your Land" Woody Guthrie
"The George Bush Song" Willie Barrow and Sylvia Johns Cain
Michael Dukakis
"America" Neil Diamond
1992 Ross Perot
(Independent · campaign)
"Crazy"[4] Willie Nelson
Bill Clinton
(Democratic ·
1992: campaign)
"Don't Stop" Christine McVie
1996 "This Is the Moment" Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse
Bob Dole
"Dole Man" Isaac Hayes, David Porter, and Sam Moore
2000 Al Gore
(Democratic · campaign)
"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" Randy Bachman
Sir Duke Stevie Wonder
"Let the Day Begin" Michael Been
"Praise You"[5][6] Norman Cook
George W. Bush
(Republican ·
2000: campaign ·
2004: campaign)
"I Won't Back Down" Tom Petty
"We the People" Billy Ray Cyrus
"Right Now" Van Halen
2004 "Only in America" Brooks & Dunn
"Wave on Wave" Pat Green
Howard Dean

(Democratic ·

primary campaign)

"We Can"[7] LeAnn Rimes
John Kerry
(Democratic · campaign)
"No Surrender" Bruce Springsteen
"Fortunate Son" John Fogerty
"Beautiful Day" U2
2008 Rudy Giuliani
(Republican · primary campaign)
"Take Us Out" Jerry Goldsmith
"Rudie Can't Fail" Joe Strummer and Mick Jones
Mike Huckabee
(Republican · primary campaign)
"More Than a Feeling" Tom Scholz
Dennis Kucinich
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Give Peace a Chance" John Lennon
Chris Dodd
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Get Ready" Smokey Robinson
"Reach Out I'll Be There" Holland–Dozier–Holland
John Edwards
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Our Country" John Mellencamp
Hillary Clinton
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Blue Sky" Todd Park Mohr
"Suddenly I See" KT Tunstall
"You and I" Celine Dion
"Takin' Care of Business" Randy Bachman
"9 to 5" Dolly Parton
"American Girl" Tom Petty
Cynthia McKinney
(Green · campaign)
"Power to the People" John Lennon
John McCain
(Republican · campaign)
"Take Us Out" Jerry Goldsmith
"Take a Chance on Me" Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus
"Our Country" John Mellencamp
"Raisin' McCain" John Rich
Barack Obama
(Democratic ·
2008: campaign ·
2012: campaign)
"Yes We Can"
"Better Way" Ben Harper
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" Stevie Wonder
"City of Blinding Lights" U2
"Higher and Higher" Jackie Wilson
"Think" Aretha Franklin
"The Rising" Bruce Springsteen
"Only in America" Kix Brooks, Don Cook, and Ronnie Rogers
2012 "We Take Care of Our Own" Bruce Springsteen
Mitt Romney
(Republican · campaign)
"Born Free" Kid Rock
"It's America" Rodney Atkins
2016 John Kasich
(Republican · primary campaign)
"Beautiful Day"[8] U2
Bernie Sanders
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"America" Paul Simon
"Starman" David Bowie
Donald Trump
(Republican · campaign)
"You Can't Always Get What You Want" Jagger/Richards
"God Bless the USA" Lee Greenwood
Hillary Clinton
(Democratic · campaign)
"Fight Song" Rachel Platten
"Roar" Katy Perry
"Brave" Sara Bareilles
Ted Cruz
(Republican · primary campaign)
"Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly"[9][10] Aaron Tippin
2020 Beto O'Rourke
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Clampdown" The Clash
Pete Buttigieg
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"High Hopes" Jake Sinclair and Jonas Jeberg
Bernie Sanders
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Seven Nation Army" The White Stripes
"Power to the People" John Lennon
Joe Biden
(Democratic · campaign)
"We Take Care of Our Own" Bruce Springsteen
"Higher and Higher" Jackie Wilson
"Move On Up" Curtis Mayfield
"We the People" Booker T. Jones and Carl Smith
"A Sky Full of Stars" Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Tim Bergling
Kamala Harris
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Work That" Mary J. Blige
Elizabeth Warren
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"9 to 5" Dolly Parton
Andrew Yang
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Return of the Mack" Mark Morrison
Jay Inslee
(Democratic · primary campaign)
"Mr. Blue Sky" ELO
Donald Trump
(Republican · campaign)
"Y.M.C.A."[11] Village People


  1. ^ Adams, James Truslow (1940). Dictionary of American History. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  2. ^ "Hughes Declares Harding Best Man – Tells Theatrical Visitors to Marion Nominee Has Courage and Common Sense – Harding for All-Star Cast – Country Drifting Under One-Load Activities, He Says, and Americans Want Change". The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  3. ^ Shanley, John P. (August 21, 1964). "'Hello, Lyndon!' Joins Campaign at Democratic Parley Next Week". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  4. ^ BRODER, JOHN M. (November 3, 1992). "Perot Winds Up Campaign With a New Theme: 'Crazy'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  5. ^ Wartofsky, Alona (April 30, 2000). "Al Gore, Drawing on Fatboy Slim's 'Praise'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  6. ^ "Fatboy Slim on Gore's Use Of "Praise You"". MTV News. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  7. ^ "Why Politicians Keep Using Songs Without Artists' Permission". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Carlson, Margaret (February 9, 2016). "John Kasich, Mainstream Outsider". Bloomberg View. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  9. ^ "Aaron Tippin Responds to Ted Cruz's Use of His Music". The Boot. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  10. ^ "Listen up! Here are the campaign launch songs you need to hear". MSNBC. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  11. ^ Nolan, Emma (September 22, 2020). "Trump dances to YMCA, but still hasn't done the iconic Village People moves". Newsweek. Retrieved October 19, 2020.

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