I don't know much about politics, but I can tell when the system is broken. For decades, presidential candidates have chosen horrible campaign songs. An aide to Hillary Clinton played Billy Joel's "Captain Jack," which is about drug use. Michele Bachmann blasted Tom Petty's "American Girl" at rallies until Petty sent her a humiliating cease-and-desist letter much like the one he sent to George W. Bush in 2000. Campaigns are the only places left in the world without DJs.
I volunteered my services to the candidates and, after much consideration, chose Gary Johnson, since he is such a long shot in the GOP race that he's the only one who would meet with me. Shortly after sitting down with the former New Mexico governor at a cafĂ© in Beverly Hills, I learned--just as I'd feared--that he'd put no thought into choosing his campaign song. When I asked him what kind of music he liked, he mentioned "Miracles" by Jefferson Starship and sang some of it for me. First of all, Johnson has a really nice singing voice. Second, we were not going with "Miracles" by Jefferson Starship.
I played Johnson some options on my computer. I thought Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money, Mo Problems" reflected his small-government, low-taxes campaign theme. More important, Notorious B.I.G. is unlikely to complain about Johnson's using the song since Notorious B.I.G. is dead. But Johnson didn't like it. Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" hinted at Johnson's participation in Ironman triathlons, but he didn't dig that either. He also didn't like Shooter Jennings' "4th of July." "The only problem with country music is that it kills plants," he said, sipping his nonfat chai latte. I was starting to think we would really need to pump up Johnson's red-state credentials.
Searching for something Johnson could get really excited about, I asked him if he knew any musicians. He told me that just weeks before, he'd met with Willie Nelson backstage at a concert, where the singer endorsed his candidacy. We obviously had to go with a Willie Nelson song. Until we thought about Willie Nelson songs. They're all about crime, drinking and lost love and not at all about fiscal responsibility. Plus, shortly after endorsing Johnson, Nelson also endorsed Dennis Kucinich, who is not even running for President. We thought it was best to go with an artist who doesn't smoke quite as much pot.
When I pressed Johnson on other relationships with musicians, he said, "I guess I could say I'm friends with Sammy Hagar." This was tremendous news. Johnson knew one of Hagar's business partners and had stood onstage for an entire concert as kind of a background dancer. He told me, "After the concert, Sammy said, 'You know, you're the first politician I've ever introduced who wasn't booed. They all cheered.' I said, 'Sammy, I've been espousing legalizing marijuana for years. I could be elected king here.'"
I pushed for Hagar's "Eagles Fly" because it was about eagles, but Johnson loved "Dreams," a song Hagar recorded with Van Halen, which Johnson kept referring to as "Higher and Higher." I was starting to worry I had backed a one-issue candidate.