Sunday, May 20, 2007

Please don't choose "My Humps"

I'm surprised Hillary Clinton is letting the people pick her campaign theme song, because the presidential campaigns of her husband -- remember him? -- always had great soundtracks, and I don't recall those being up for a vote.

I'm obviously thinking, in part, of "Don't Stop," the Fleetwood Mac ditty that seemed pitch-perfect when Bill Clinton used it in his 1992 campaign. But more than that: One of my favorite pieces of political theater ever involved the music at the climax of the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

At the end of Clinton's acceptance speech he told the roaring masses, "I still believe in a place called Hope -- a place called America." Immediately the throbbing coda of Chicago's "Beginnings" began to play, and it was a brilliant choice. Chicago was a combo Baby Boomers loved almost as much as Fleetwood Mac, after all -- and the convention took place in the Democratic stronghold of Chicago, after all. (Bill Clinton knew who buttered his bread.)

Beyond that, though, the lyrics struck a fitting, if slightly overwrought, theme for a re-election campaign: "Only the beginning of what I want to feel forever." He waved, Al Gore waved, their families waved, confetti fell, the crowd cheered.

When the Chicago song concluded, what happened next was very Clintonian: Alabama's labor anthem "40 Hour Week" started up. Hey, if the theme song doesn't convey the whole message, then have two theme songs!

Watching the display at home I remembered Clinton's sunny campaign for the 1992 election, the first one I voted in, and felt energized. Who knew what horrors lay ahead? Only the beginning, indeed.

For what it's worth, the choices for Hillary's song mostly suck. If I had to choose one I might go with "I'm a Believer," if it were a recording by anyone but Smash Mouth. Barring that, I'd have to pick the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There," which come to think of it is a perfect campaign song. Didn't I hear it in a yogurt commercial or something?

You can watch Bill Clinton's convention speech and the big finale on if you search for "1996 Democratic convention." The song kicks in at about 1:08:00. Meanwhile, here's the Chicago track.

Chicago - "Beginnings"

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