Music legend slams Bush campaign over song theft
October 30, 2004
George Bush may be getting the same kind of legal and musical advice as he gets from his military and environmental strategists.
Amidst a torrent of bad news, yet another Bush fiasco has erupted with his attempt to use the rock standard "Still the One" as his theme song without bothering to ask its author for permission.
Rock and roll legend John Hall has issued a cease and desist order. Hall says he doesn't want his song "used to promote the candidacy of someone who has been a disaster for the environment." After widely announcing "Still the One" and blaring it at public rallies, Bush now says he won't use it.
Hall says he was "unwinding" after a long work day when he heard Lou Dobbs on CNN announce that the Bush campaign had adopted his song. The news report then featured it being played at a Bush rally in Ohio. "Our jaws dropped as 'Still The One"came pouring out of the speakers," says Hall. "Johanna's words, Larry's voice, our harmonies and instrumental work and the emotion that went into it..."
Hall wrote "Still the One" with his then-spouse Johanna Hall, and made it a rock standard with Lance and Larry Hoppen, his cohorts in the band "Orleans".
In 1979 Hall helped found Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE), aimed at stopping nuclear power. MUSE staged five sell-out concerts in New York's Madison Square Garden and then a huge rally at Battery Park City, near the site of the World Trade Center. In all some 300,000 people flocked to hear Hall, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Carly Simon, James Taylor and others denounce atomic reactors and demand a green future.
Hall later became an elected public official in upstate New York. He performs for environmental causes, and now serves on the board of legendary sloop Clearwater, which campaigns to clean up the Hudson River Valley. Hall says he and his band recently turned down a $10,000 offer to perform for the Maryland Republican Party.
On October 29 Hall had his attorneys serve the Bush-Cheney Campaign and Ed Gillespie, Chair of the Republican National Committee, with a cease and desist order, saying their use of "Still the One" constituted a clear copyright infringement. "As the promoter of an "ownership society," says Hall, " the issue of intellectual property rights" is something "the president should know about."
The Republicans now say they won't use "Still the One" to promote Bush's campaign.
Hall says he had planned to quietly vote for John Kerry. But since the story spread he has been telling the media what he thinks. "Whether it's rejecting the Kyoto global warming treaty, rewriting the mining regulations to allow tons of debris from mountaintop mining to be dumped in West Virginia streambeds, or allowing salmon in hatcheries to be counted the same as wild salmon for the purposes of the endangered species act, this administration can be counted on to side with the polluting industries and against the health of the people and the environment," Hall says. "These policy changes have been hidden under the radar, kept out of the headlines by the war in Iraq. But they constitute just as real a threat to our national security."
Maybe Bush will be a little more careful in the choice of his next theme song. But then again….
HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available www.harveywasserman.com He is Senior Editor of freepress.org.
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