Stevie Wonder – He’s Misstra Know-It-All

This song by Stevie Wonder, on his phenomenal social and musical achievement, the Innervisions album of 1973, takes on the 37th US president, Richard Nixon. Well, the lyrics detail an over-confident, know-it-all trickster. But it was widely figured to be about “Tricky Dick.”

You might today feel it applies to President Donald Trump, too, with verses like:

Makes a deal
With a smile
Knowin’ all the time that his lie’s a mile
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Must be seen
There’s no doubt
He’s the coolest one with the biggest mouth
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Also by Stevie Wonder and reviewed here:

Some other songs here about Richard Nixon:

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Aimee Mann – Can’t You Tell?

Old school hipsters will want you to know that like them, you should appreciate Aimee Mann. She led 80’s new wavers ‘Til Tuesday, but has a longer, more distinguished, if low-key, solo career.

Today, with this song, Mann is singing as if she was 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

It is part of an artist’s campaign, sort of like these social media challenges of posting inspirational happenings for one month. This one, is 30 Days, 30 Songs, wanting a “Trump-Free America.”

Mann imagines “The Donald” as a sociopath who has no plan for America beyond winning. He can’t stop the damage he is wreaking, and would wreak more, if president. But that, Trump has a conscience and truly, privately wishes someone would put a stop to him getting the top political job of the land.

Who is to blame? Trump for, sure. But Mann as Trump suggests his supporters carry responsibility, too, wanting to crown Donald Trump and troll and lambaste his detractors. That’s an interesting point: Donald Trump is who he is, but what is it in the American political culture that has put this person in prominence?

One could argue, this instalment of 30 Days, 30 Songs could try to get into the minds of Trumpsters to better understand their feelings and motivations, and support for Trump. What gave rise to their stridency?

Mann doesn’t like Trump, and by extension, maybe his adherents, too? But the song even accords some humanity to the man. This is not just from it suggesting Donald wants off this runaway train, but through the tune’s fluid, effortless melody and soothing, jangly instrumentation.

It might be one of the sweetest salves of a protest song, despite Trump being so abrasive in style?

Katrina & The Waves – Walkin’ On Sunshine

This 1985 tune earns about $1 million per year in royalties for the band. You’ve heard it in movies like High Fidelity, American Psycho and Daddy Day Care. And on TV shows like The Gilmore Girls and The Drew Carey Show. If a program needs to emphasize some good feelings, this song is the go-to choice.

You can appreciate politicians would try to latch on to this poppy infectiousness.

Republican Michele Bachmann represented Minnesota from 2007-2015, in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is known as a Tea Party supporter. When campaigning for President in 2012, the politician played this song.

Katrina and her Waves objected! Did Michele even ask?

The band had other catchy tunes, but fall into the one-hit wonder category. Too, Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race, but has the distinction of being Minnesota’s first female federal Congresswoman, at least for her party.

Still, Tom Petty was not a fan of Bachmann, either: American Girl.

Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down

US Senator John McCain might hold the record for most times, for using songs without the permission of the artists. He used Van Halen’s Right Now. He’s also had John Mellancamp upset for using “Our Country.” Heart didn’t like McCain spinning “Barracuda.”

Other songs McCain pinched without approval: John Mellancamp’s “Pink Houses,” The Foo Fighter’s “My Hero,” Abba’s “Take A Chance on Me,” Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” and Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty.”

These are from McCain’s 2008 run for President as a Republican. He lost to Barack Obama.

Are there more?

Tom Petty objected to the Arizona Senator using “I Won’t Back Down.”

The general lyrics about not giving up in the face of adversity do fit well for an election campaign theme song. It was also a popular song on the radio following 9/11.

Not again!:

Petty had his 1989 song copped again, but this time by a non-politician. Petty got co-writing credits on Sam Smith’s similar-sounding “Stay With Me” (2014), even though he didn’t think it was such a big deal.

Steve Earle – The Revolution Starts…

 

From 2004, alternative country singer Earle looks around backyards, the street, his home town and even his dreams, for a revolution to start. He doesn’t say for why or too much for what, beyond helping people that are “without.”

It’s widely thought he was singing optimistically for the 2004 US presidential election to be that revolution. At the time of this song’s release, that election was a mere season away.

That November, incumbent George W. Bush for the Republicans triumphed over Democratic candidate John Kerry. Bush received a shade over half of the popular vote.

No doubt Steve Earle was disappointed: he had a different revolution in mind!

What is a revolution? Ask the Clash.

Sting – Brand New Day

It’s probably a love song, of a person in a relationship wishing they could start over. Brand new days, turning the ship around, starting over, turning back the clock… but these lyrics are all speech cliches politicians frequently employ. No wonder then, that this song has been a popular choice for campaigners.

The Sting song has the distinction of being appropriated by both the Republican and Democrat parties in the US, and for the same election! George W. Bush (Republican) and Al Gore (Democrat) battled for the presidency, while snapping their fingers to Sting. This was in 2000.

Sting didn’t like either of them using his song. We could stretch this into sounding nonpartisan.

Partisanship is like when a person or organization is a staunch defender of their candidate or political party, quite rigidly. It is not a flexible stance. Your side has the answers. Compromise? Never. Working together with “the other guys,” for common goals, is not on the menu.

So, nonpartisanship by the book means an individual or organization such as a think tank or social service provider, is not affiliated to a political party or candidate. It can also relate to elections for government offices that do not go by political parties. This is common at the city/local government level and for school boards.

More reflectively, nonpartisanship carries other understandings.

A nonpartisan could be someone who is very open-minded, politically. Unofficially, it could be a position of indecision at the present time. Or they are apathetic or ignorant.

Saying you are non-partisan could be a white lie to avoid fractious political discussions, even if you are stuck hard on your beliefs, privately. You just don’t feel like getting into it.

More slyly, declaring oneself above the fray of petty politics, and thus, nonpartisan, could be a fallacious argumentative tactic. That is, saying, “our” side is above the dickering, small-mindedness of our opponents that focus on political conflict… we transcend politics and just focus on what is right or what matters most. This tactic is designed to make it seem like opponents are not as worthy. But it’s highly partisan. It’s a partisan non-partisanship.

Still others may claim non-partisanship to draw attention to themselves, as being somehow superior or more evolved, in a narcissistic manner?

Ani Difranco – Self Evident

Difranco gets a lot off her mind in this 2002 poem of a song. It highlights the anger many artists felt about U.S. policy in the 2000s. It covers 9/11 and terrorism, abortion, energy policy, the media and technology, elections and more… all with a hate on for George W. Bush.

The scope is impressive, though could one wonder if the singer appreciates the depth of detail to be an authority on so much? It could be seen as a laundry list of political issues and areas many of us could be better informed about.

The style is similar to another Difranco song, Amendment.