One Year Later, is Rand Paul Still Rocking to Rush?

In another two months it’ll be the one-year anniversary of the 2010 elections that swept into Congress almost 70 Tea Party candidates. In celebration of, despair over, or indifference to that occasion, depending on your political orientation, we’re showcasing the letter that Rush’s lawyer sent to Rand Paul asking his campaign to stop playing the band’s music at his political events.

To refresh your memory, Paul, a Tea Party favorite and now U.S. senator from Kentucky, was using “The Spirit of Radio” at campaign rallies and included “Tom Sawyer” in a fundraising video. He also on at least one occasion quoted lyrics from “The Trees” to illustrate his views about government intervention in the private economy.

Rush’s management sent his campaign a cease and desist letter on the grounds that his use of the music violated copyright laws.

For the press, it made such a great story. Here was an avowed libertarian candidate using music and reciting lyrics from a band that praised Ayn Rand in the liner notes to one of its albums and whose lyrics, at least in the early days, articulated libertarian, or at least individualist, values. And the band’s drummer and lyricist had gone on record identifying himself as a left-leaning, bleeding-heart libertarian.

Bob Farmer, the band’s lawyer, said in interviews that the issue has nothing to do with politics. “This was simply a copyright thing,” he told The Atlantic’s Joshua Green. “I mean, first of all, they’re Canadians. What do they know about American politics?”

In his book Traveling Music, Neil made the point that he dislikes the mixing of politics and religion with music. It’s not that musicians don’t have political leanings or don’t express their views in their music. Of course they do. Snakes and Arrows is nothing if not a critique of so much in recent American political and religious life. Rather, he takes issue with using music explicitly for political or religious purposes, which is something that happened to him when he attended a performance of Seals and Crofts. You might remember this soft-rock duo with the string of hits in the 70s, the biggest of which was probably “Diamond Girl.” At the end of that show, the artists talked about their Baha’i faith and invited people to stick around and chat with them about it. That had the effect of coloring the entire performance as some kind of exercise in propaganda. “Proselytizing at a concert seemed strange, and made me feel uncomfortable,” he said.

What’s interesting about the Rand Paul dust-up is that the campaign never responded to Farmer’s letter. Not that they needed to necessarily. As long as they complied with its request to stop playing the music, there was no reason for them to reply to Farmer. But, still, you’d think out of politeness . . . .

Well, it’s been almost a year since Paul was elected and presumably he’s still playing Rush, but now it’s in the privacy of his home or office, maybe before he votes to cut down some regulations. With that, it’s time to a) celebrate, b) despair, or c) yawn in indifference.

—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault

 More This and That.

rand-bkHere’s a fun piece of satire on how Rush and other Canadians unleashed Ayn Rand on the United States in an effort to destabilize the country.

~ by rvkeeper on September 24, 2011.

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