Song By '80s Rockers The Call Revived As Campaign Theme

Songwriter Michael Been calls 'Let the Day Begin' an uplifting tune from a pessimistic catalog.

Democratic planners did some crate-digging to find the song that closed the party's convention Thursday night — "Let the Day Begin," from an out-of-print 1989 album of the same name by '80s rockers the Call.

The anthemic song (RealAudio excerpt) catalogs a variety of people ("Here's to the teachers in the crowded rooms/ Here's to the workers in the field") before proclaiming, "let the day begin." It joins the ranks of political theme songs such as Bill Clinton's 1992 choice, Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" (RealAudio excerpt), and Ricky Martin's "The Cup of Life," which the Republican Party used at its convention in Philadelphia earlier this month.

The song's author, Call singer/songwriter Michael Been, who learned the song was being used from messages on his answering machine Friday morning, called it "an uplifting kind of song — a good morning song."

"I tend to write some more pessimistic songs, and songs like that help keep a balance," Been said on Friday afternoon from a studio in Los Angeles, where he was doing production for his son's band, Black Rubble Motorcycle Club.

Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore has used several other songs on the campaign trail, including Bachman-Turner Overdrive's 1974 hard-rock hit "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" (RealAudio excerpt), Orleans' soft-rock standard "Still the One" and Fatboy Slim's 1999 hit "Praise You" (RealAudio excerpt).

But the Call song, which reached #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart 11 years ago, took center stage Thursday. It was played in its entirety at the climactic moment of the convention when Gore finished his speech by accepting the nomination. The song's opening bassline kicked in as balloons fell from the ceiling of the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Been said his lyrics seem appropriate to the ideals of the Democratic Party, but he stopped short of a full-hearted endorsement of the Gore-Joseph Lieberman ticket.

"My view is just don't vote for George Bush," Been said. "I'm a Democrat myself, although I've got my qualms with them. Once you get to that level, there's a tremendous amount of corruption.

"My heart is always with [Green Party candidate] Ralph Nader, but I'm aware enough of the game to know he'd be eaten alive, and I wouldn't wish that on the guy.

"Realistically, a vote that isn't for Gore would be a vote for Bush," he concluded. Gore's principal opponent is Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Call guitarist Tom Ferrier said he learned earlier in the week that the Democrats were using the song when he was told it was played at the press conference where Gore named Lieberman, a Connecticut senator, as his running mate.

"It's a great song for something like that, with its rallying anthem theme," Ferrier said. "The San Francisco Giants used it at all their home games around when it came out, just for its positive message."

Been said his caution with the Democratic candidates does not stem from their views on entertainment. Some leaders in the entertainment industry have said they are wary of the Gore-Lieberman ticket because of Lieberman's continuing criticism of music, movies and other popular culture and Gore's wife Tipper's history with the Parents Music Resource Center.

"In a perfect world you would hope that artists would be more responsible," Been said. "I don't have anything against movie ratings, or even music ratings, but at the same time, the issue's who's making the decisions."

The exposure comes at a good time for the Call, who plan to release their first album since 1997's To Heaven and Back in October. The LP, Live Under the Red Moon, draws most of its material from 1990's Red Moon, an album Been said the band all liked even though it did not get much attention.

The album concludes with a thunderous live version of "Let the Day Begin," and includes performances of mid-'80s songs such as "I Still Believe" and "I Don't Wanna."

Been, who works as a producer in Los Angeles, recently has been playing with Garth Hudson, keyboardist for The Band, on a project tentatively titled Bird Dog, which he described as Americana music.