What are we fightin’ for
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn
My next stop is Vietnam
Country Joe and the Fish
Musicians in the U.S. have never been shy about expressing their opinions about the state of the union and the world.
That was never more obvious than during the 60’s when bands wrote protest songs and made political statements from the stage during live shows.
Hip hop artist Kanye West’s recent statement about running for president in the future got me thinking again about the mixture of music and politics. While many musicians have made political pronouncements in their songs and from stage, some have become even more active.
On the local scene, a punk band member I knew named Joe Young once ran for city council in the small North Carolina town where I lived and won … at first. It was later found that some votes were accidentally counted twice and he didn’t actually make the cut.
Martha Reeves of Martha and The Vandellas, did get legitamatlly elected to the Detroit City council and served seven years beginning in 2002.
Haitian-American musician and songwriter Wyclef Jean declared his intention to run for president in 2010. Not president of the U.S., but of Haiti. He hadn’t actually lived in Haiti since he was nine years old and was not allowed on the ballot.
Pop star Sonny Bono perhaps had the most success in politics. After his successful music career with wife Cher in the 1960s, Bono was elected mayor of Palm Springs, CA in 1988, and was elected to Congress in 1994. He was still serving in the House until his death in a skiing accident in 1998.
As for Kanye, he believes he could be successful running as an outsider candidate for the highest office in the land.
It remains to be seen whether someone able to come up with a cool lyric or infectious beat can also be capable of composing an effective campaign slogan.