Ever since Thomas Jefferson reportedly used Yankee Doodle as his campaign song in 1800 without permission, there has been an ongoing battle between songwriters and presidential aspirants. In 2008, John McCain received complaints from Jackson Browne, Jon Bon Jovi, Van Halen and others about unauthorized use of their songs. Likewise, in 2012, Mitt Romney ran afoul of K'Naan and Twisted Sister for filching their songs Wavin' Flag and We're Not Gonna Take It.
As for the current race, Donald Trump's claim to be number one is at least borne out when it comes to the misappropriation of music for his campaign. Neil Young took offense at The Donald's use of Rockin' in the Free World and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith wrote demanding the Trump campaign stop using Dream On. Michael Stipe of R.E.M. chastised Trump for using It's the End of the World as We Know It and even Adele has gotten into the act and demanded Trump stop using Rolling in the Deep and Skyfall as campaign songs.
It's a bit surprising that the Trump campaign would run afoul of copyright provisions when there are apparently dozens of songs that the rights holders would be more than happy to grant Donald permission to use. Here are just a few examples:
Given his run-ins with the I.R.S., Willie Nelson is undoubtedly not a big fan of government or politicians. But when it comes to Donald Trump, he's apparently willing to make an exception and grant him rights to use the Patsy Cline hit Crazy at his rallies.
Bassist John Deacon of the rock group Queen has barred the Trump campaign from using most of his songbook. However, he has generously made an exception for one of his group's biggest hits: Another One Bites the Dust.
EMI and Apple Corps still haven't completely settled on terms for the public use of many of The Beatles recordings but they have agreed on one thing. Donald Trump is welcome to use John Lennon's song I'm a Loser royalty-free any time he wants. The parties are reportedly still negotiating over whether Trump can also use Paul McCartney's 1967 hit The Fool on the Hill.
Baby boomers will likely remember the 1960s soul trio The Capitols and their big hit Cool Jerk. The group's guitarist Donald Storball wrote the song and says he's fine with Donald Trump using it. "He may not be the former," said Storball. "But he sure is the latter."
Max Martin and Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald penned the hit song Since U Been Gone for Kelly Clarkson back in 2004 and reportedly have no objection to Donald Trump using it. With lyrics like "Since you been gone, I can breathe for the first time", the song seems a perfect fit.
One of the top songs of Donald Trump's youth is apparently also available for his use. That's the 1955 hit The Great Pretender written by Buck Ram and performed by The Platters.
The estate of the late John Denver has chimed in with permission to use his song Leaving on a Jet Plane. "As long as he does," said an estate spokesperson. "We have no objection to him using it."
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are not big Donald Trump fans but they don't want to seem uncooperative in denying him access to all of their works. For that reason, they've freed up Sympathy for the Devil for The Donald's use.
Finally, if the Trump campaign is worried about costs or copyright infringement, perhaps they should look at what's available in the public domain and, in particular, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, otherwise known as Pathétique.
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