I contributed a few blurbs to Spin‘s October feature “Strange Bedfellows,” which detailed the odd nexus where rock music and politics convene. One entry was about the first copyright-snubbing cut-up artist Dickie Goodman and his 1973 assemblage “Soul President Number One.” In it, the first “soul” president is elected, quotes Barry White and the Temptations, and appoints Superfly to head of the FBI. Here’s Dickie’s skewed take on the 1980 presidential campaign:
Ten years ago this month–Nov. 3, 1998, to be exact–Jive Records released Britney Spears’ debut single “Baby One More Time” (b/w “Autumn Goodbye”) in CD and 12-inch vinyl configurations. Metal Mike Saunders–the most entertaining teen-pop critic of this decade if not human history, not to mention a Certified Public Accountant, not to mention the former singer of L.A.’s greatest early ‘80s punk band the Angry Samoans–had already purchased his copy of the song on promo cassingle two months earlier.
The album came out in January 1999, and by March (as is clear in this 5,000-word Village Voice diary, edited by yours truly), Metal Mike was predicting a multiplatinum long-haul career consisting of 20% music, 50% TV, “and—God help us all—30% s-e-x.” (“The game is over. Set, point, and match… the CD’ll go 3-4 million easy.”) And though nobody could then have anticipated what Britney would turn into (basically, a one-woman circus, as the title of her sixth album, due a week from today, makes explicit), Mike’s predictive math wasn’t all that far off; honestly, Nate Silver would be proud. When MTV aired its final edition of TRL earlier this month, “Baby One More Time” was named the show’s most influential video ever. (Of especially weird note are Saunders’ observations about Britney’s hardcore Protestant upbringing, “I’m better than you are and you’re boring me” facial smirks, and successful Saturday Night Live debut, all of which eerily anticipate Sarah Palin.)
Inexplicable symbol-with-legs Samuel Wurzelbacher–known to the news media as “Joe The Plumber,” even though his name isn’t Joe–has decided to go all Hollywood, presumably because he isn’t licensed to perform plumbing operations in his home city and probably never will be after all the antics he’s engaged in since being thrust into the national spotlight. He’s signed with a Nashville-based PR firm to “create new media opportunities,” and one of the ideas knocking around their office is–wait for it–Joe maybe signing with a major label’s Nashville arm. Even though he can’t really write songs. America: Land of opportunity, especially if you have a “strong political point of view”!
There are two weeks left to go in the Presidential campaign, and that means one thing: More time for musicians to get annoyed when a politician whose views don’t jibe with theirs to get annoyed about what they see as “misuse” of their songs! In anticipation of this happening at least three more times before Nov. 4, we asked our official house counsel, John P. Strohm, for his legally considered opinion on the subject. After the jump, he talks about the nitty-gritty of song licenses, and whether Dave Grohl should have even bothered coming out of retirement to complain about John McCain’s use of the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero.”
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