In the past week, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin have managed to rile two classic rock outfits, Van Halen and Heart, who both claim the Arizona senator’s campaign didn’t ask their permission to use their songs.
First, on August 29, just minutes before revealing Palin as his running mate , McCain strutted out onto a stage in Dayton, Ohio, as Van Halen’s inspirational 1991 track “Right Now” boomed through the speakers. Hours later, the band’s publicist told MTV News that Van Halen had no idea McCain would be using the track, and “had they asked, permission would not have been granted.”
Now, the candidate has enraged Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, who’ve apparently issued cease-and-desist letters to the McCain/Palin campaign, demanding that their 1977 hit “Barracuda” not be used as Palin’s theme song. The track was used at the convention, both to introduce Palin and on the heels of McCain’s acceptance speech at the close of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. The song was likely chosen to refer to Palin’s nickname “Sarah Barracuda,” which the Alaska governor earned as a high school basketball star in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.
“The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission,” says a statement from Heart’s camp, according to TMZ.com. “We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored.”
Later, in a phone call to EW.com, Nancy Wilson expressed her feelings more strongly. “I feel completely f—ed over,” she said. And in an e-mail to the site, both sisters said that “Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late ’70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The ‘barracuda’ represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there’s irony in Republican strategists’ choice to make use of it there.”
“Barracuda” is perhaps Heart’s best-known single, and appears on the band’s third LP, Little Queen.