April 12, 2012

"Scott Walker's Using John Mellencamp's Music; Mellencamp is Not Amused."

Oh! Mellencamp not amused. According to headline writers at The Nation. Walker is using Mellencamp's classic song about a small town, "Small Town." (Scott Walker was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which currently has a population over 400,000.)

The article at The Nation is by John Nichols, whose only factual basis for the claim of non-amusement is that "The musician's publicist contacted the Walker campaign to inform them" that Mellencamp is "very pro-collective bargaining and the fight for a living wage." I don't know what that has to do with Walker's limits on unions representing public workers, who are trying to maintain their good salaries and benefits, not private industry workers at a level where they have to "fight for a living wage," who actually sound like the kind of people who would vote for Walker.
Mellencamp is not demanding that Walker... stop using his music. But, as the rocker did when Republican John McCain started using his song "Our Country" in 2008, Mellencamp is reminding Republicans that he is not one of them -- and that his songs are not written to celebrate their policies.
Are they written to "celebrate" anybody's politics? Seems to me Mellencamp is open to all sorts of fans, and I wouldn't be surprised if he is quietly pleased that politicians, including conservative politicians, find his songs apt.
"He's a very liberal person," [publicist Bob] Merlis says of the singer, who performed "Small Town" at a rally for Barack Obama in 2008, recorded a radio ad for Obama and appeared at Obama's inagural [sic] in 2009.
Nichols lamely stretches, saying "Mellencamp has even addressed recall politics," and going on to talk activities related to the recall of California Governor Gray Davis in 2003:
An ardent for [sic] of former President George Bush's Iraq War policies, Mellencamp wrote: "The Governor of California was removed from office based on finance troubles. And yet George W. Bush has lied to us, failed to keep our own borders secure, entered a war under false pretense, endangered lives, and created financial chaos. How is it that he hasn't been recalled?...
And that should count against Walker? Mellencamp seems to like financial discipline. Nichols ends his nitwit piece by fantasizing about Mellencamp coming to Wisconsin and singing "Small Town" at a rally for Walker's opponent, who will be one of these 4 characters. (What would they do to help the economy in Wisconsin? Their ideas ranged from spending on education to ending "partisan bickering.")

Anyway, I will now leave John Nichols to his private dreamy dreams about Mellencamp, the 60-year-old Hoosier who just might care very deeply about government workers in Wisconsin.

50 comments:

David said...

"not leave" or "now leave" in last paragraph?

I thought I was the typo king.

Freder Frederson said...

I don't know what your point is here. Do you not believe that Mellencamp (a well known labor rights supporter and consistent supporter of Democrats) is really upset about this. If you are waiting for a more definitive complaint, I bet you don't have to wait long.


And of course you can complain that you "don't know what that has to do with Walker's limits on unions representing public workers, who are trying to maintain their good salaries and benefits", you have tenure and are sitting pretty.

Do you think unions should only represent workers who do not earn a living wage.

rhhardin said...

Chrissie Hynde wasn't amused by Rush using My City Was Gone, even after annual royalties, resulting in a search for another theme song until Chrissie learned that her parents liked Rush and she agreed to continue the commercial exchange.

Or maybe she grew older.

rhhardin said...

Mellencamp (a well known labor rights supporter

Lefty line of the day.

Seeing Red said...

--failed to keep our own borders secure,--

Is Mellencamp anti-immigration?

rhhardin said...

Labor law was part of the new deal.

Forutnately the effects eventually wiped the unions out, except of course for public unions, which can't bankrupt their employer quite so easily, though just as surely.

The point of law they violate is that A and B shouldn't be able to join forces to claim rights against C that A and B don't already have individually.

alan markus said...

"Small Town"/"Our Country" doesn't compare to this:

Iris DeMent - Our Town

I see a little bit of Wisconsin in that clip - maybe a lot more in the future if we aren't careful.

James said...

Let me know when he returns the checks from ASCAP or BMI.

Bob Ellison said...

You all know, of course, where honeydews and canteloupes send their kids in the summer.

Quayle said...

Do you think unions should only represent workers who do not earn a living wage.

FF, you can't get on here and follow your Madison demonstrator friends and obscure the real issue with straw horses.

Again, for your point of focus: public sector unions - unions of workers that are employed by the taxpayers - are an egregious abomination in a democracy.

First, they are conflicted bordering on corrupt when they contribute to the politicians that sit opposite them at the negotiating table.

Second, the taxpayer is king, and who the hell are these employees of the taxpayers that they should be able to organize and object to what the taxpayer wants to spend for services?

If the taxpayer wants to pay a below market wage, so be it. The public sector employees don't have to take the work. (And where is their sense of civic service anyway?)

Your, problem FF, is that you don't want to take a clear and simple look at tax receipts versus government expenses?

Or, even worse, you don't want to just come right out and say that you believe in using the absolute power of the state to simply take from a rich man and give to a poorer man.

Salamandyr said...

Did Walker pay for the rights to use the song? If so, fuck Mellencamp.

Freder Frederson said...

Again, for your point of focus: public sector unions - unions of workers that are employed by the taxpayers - are an egregious abomination in a democracy.

No they aren't, the right to organize (including public employees) is explicitly stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was championed by the United States.

leslyn said...

Why would Mellencamp "be quietly pleased" that someone contrary to his values use one of his songs to promote policies against those values? From what I know of Mellencamp, he"s not a crass, fame-seeking individual who craves constant adulation and attention. In fact, he's a rather private sort.

And it's just like Walker to try and fool us with a song that has nothing to do with who he really is. Sound familiar?

garage mahal said...

You know you're in an election year when some artist or band is telling Republicans not to use their songs.

Mitch H. said...

Are they written to "celebrate" anybody's politics?

Yes? He's very much a Great Society farm-subsidies and red-plow unionism Democrat. He's only nonpolitical in comparison with the current version of Springsteen, and he clearly modeled himself on the earlier, less crazy Seventies version of Springsteen when he was still "John Cougar".

Freder Frederson said...

Did Walker pay for the rights to use the song? If so, fuck Mellencamp.

It is highly unlikely, but unless the venue has a blanket license to publicly broadcast music, it is unlikely that Walker is paying BMI or ASCAP license fees for playing the songs at events. Politicians have been sued and paid out for unauthorized use of songs (e.g., David Byrne, Tom Petty, and Don Henley)

Even if Walker is paying the licensing fees, he could still have problems under trademark laws if use of the song causes people to reasonably believe that the artist supports the politician.

For people who are so in love with property rights, you sure don't have much respect for Mellencamp's property.

Calypso Facto said...

If Mr. Mellencamp does indeed care deeply about government workers in Wisconsin, he'll be happy to know that even AFTER Act 10 reforms, state employees still have the most expensive health insurance benefits in the region. At almost $14,000 per state employee per year, the state contribution is $2,500 more than the average of the region's other state employees, $3,700 more than the average unionized large company, and $5,500 more than the average large non-union company.

To borrow from JM, "Calling it a 'right' union boss, sure don't make it right, but if you want me to, I'll say a prayer for your soul tonight"

Freder Frederson said...

Why would Mellencamp "be quietly pleased" that someone contrary to his values use one of his songs to promote policies against those values?

Althouse is a narcissist. In her world the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Of course Mellencamp should be pleased, after all, any publicity is good publicity.

Bob Ellison said...

FF, government employees work for the governed (e.g. the taxpayers). Supporting their ability to organize and sue their employers is essentially a masochistic enterprise, much like most shareholder class actions.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Cougar John should thank Walker. It's the only publicity the old has-been can get.

garage mahal said...

Vincent Thomas Lombardi was a proud public union supporting Wisconsin Democratic Party member.

EDH said...

Mellencamp is a legendary nepoleonic asshole, particularly to those who work for him. Best summary I could find... from the comments at Crooksandliers no less:

I worked for Mellencamp. One of the biggest jerks I've ever known. Fired the monitor mixer for nothing. Just to show he was boss. He was the only entertainer, other than Barry Manilow, who demanded his walkway to the stage be curtained off, so he wouldn't have to look at the crew. Spent $20,000.00 on an opening curtain, and trashed it before the show started the tour. Great fiscal responsibility.

Typical of what I've seen and heard about him. Beside crew, even the people closest to him can only take so much. For example, long-time drummer Kenny Aronoff and his wife, the beautiful, sweet Elaine Irwin.

Michael Haz said...

I wonder if Mellencamp supports the rights of his backup singers and band members to organize, and collectively negotiate their compensation and benefits.

Do they have the right to set their work hours and conditions? Negotiate benefits with Mellencamp? Can they call for a work stoppage during a tour, even in the middle of a performance, if they so choose?

Ha! No effing way!

Mellencamp is a hypocrite, who, by the way, lives in a right-to-work state.

Salamandyr said...

For people who are so in love with property rights, you sure don't have much respect for Mellencamp's property.

You were doing so well until you got to the telepathy part.

I have as much respect for Mellencamp's property rights as I do for the guy who opens up a public accommodation and then wants to "reserve the right to deny service" to freaks, longhairs, or black people.

John Mellencamp has offered the public the use of his song for a fee. If the terms of the contract are met, he has no right to bitch because he doesn't like the public that much.

If Walker has used the song without authorization, then Mellencamp is on clearer ground to deny the use of it.

MadisonMan said...

Did Walker pay for the rights to use the song? If so, fuck Mellencamp.

To add to Freder's comment, my opinion has always been that Politicians are incredibly cheap when spending their own money, so it would surprise me that they would do something like paying for the rights to use a song.

News such as yesterday's that the Gingrich campaign check for filing fees to get on the ballot in Utah was rubber does nothing to change my opinion of cheap politicians.

Jay said...

llencamp is a legendary nepoleonic asshole

Yep.

I can say with first hand knowledge this is absolutely true.

He treats "the help" like crap.

Just like all leftists, his "support" is via government fiat. He can't lead by example.

garage mahal said...

I can say with first hand knowledge this is absolutely true

Well tell us all about it Jay. How do you know about Mellencamp? I never pegged you as a music industry insider.

Salamandyr said...

To add to Freder's comment, my opinion has always been that Politicians are incredibly cheap when spending their own money, so it would surprise me that they would do something like paying for the rights to use a song.

I'd say, odds are you're right, though I doubt the politician has anything to do with it. I doubt the functionaries who set up events (at the state level often glorified amateurs) are aware of all the ins and outs of licensing. If they're working for Republican politicians, they definitely should bone up, or stick to country music, where the artists are a bit more forgiving of people with an R behind their name.

Fritz said...

Having been born in L.A. 400,000 is a small town to me.

MadisonMan said...

I was born in a small town.

Population was 6000, or so. Same place where Jonathan Frakes was born. Not where my parents lived, but that's where the hospital was.

Quayle said...

I worked for Mellencamp. One of the biggest jerks I've ever known.

More evidence that lefties use a public face of compassion and benevolence to hide an inner arrogant jerk.

edutcher said...

Considering it puts a couple bucks in his pocket every time Walker plays it, he should be glad for the money.

Mellencamp was never a chart-topper.

In any case, these Lefties are always "offended" when anybody uses their stuff if they don't agree with them politically.

Of course, somebody first has to explain to them what they are supposed to be believing and why the offending pol isn't one of the club.

damikesc said...

He should be glad people remember his name. He ceased being relevant how many years ago?

Just hush your mouth and play your guitar, string biscuit.

MadisonMan said...

Mellencamp was never a chart-topper.

What planet are you living on musically?

Jack & Diane was #1 for several weeks, if I'm remembering things right. And he won a grammy for Hurts so Good. The album those two hits were on -- American Fool was #1 for 2 months.

edutcher said...

Barely heard it when it was out.

Maybe a local hit someplace.

Not in the Michael Jackson - Beatles - Elvis range, certainly.

Or even the Eagles.

MadisonMan said...

Yeah, and nobody I know votes Republican

(eyeroll)

edutcher said...

Prolly.

Thorley Winston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

I would choose a Paul Westerberg song if I was running for office.

Thorley Winston said...

To add to Freder's comment, my opinion has always been that Politicians are incredibly cheap when spending their own money, so it would surprise me that they would do something like paying for the rights to use a song.

Maybe but I also seem to recall other stories about “artists” like Heart and Rush complaining about Republicans using “their” songs only to have it later come out that (a) the copyrights to the songs were actually were owned by someone else (as appears to be the case for “Small Town”) and (b) the campaigns had already paid for a license to the actual owners to use the song. Given how careful Romney’s campaign seems to have been managed, I suspect that this is going to turn out to be just such a case. Don’t know about Walker though but he seems to have been on the ball and hopefully hired campaign staffers who did whatever diligence they need to.

Freder Frederson said...

Do they have the right to set their work hours and conditions? Negotiate benefits with Mellencamp? Can they call for a work stoppage during a tour, even in the middle of a performance, if they so choose?

I bet Mellencamp uses union musicians and stagehands. Why would you assume he doesn't? The entertainment industry (especially artists) is heavily unionized (e.g., The American Federation of Musicians has 90000 members).

Freder Frederson said...

Given how careful Romney’s campaign seems to have been managed, I suspect that this is going to turn out to be just such a case. Don’t know about Walker though but he seems to have been on the ball and hopefully hired campaign staffers who did whatever diligence they need to.

Even if the copyright fees are paid, the artist can sue under trademark if a reasonable person would assume that the use of the song constitutes an endorsement by the artist (i.e., even though you might be able to use the song, you couldn't use the original recording because people would assume that Mellencamp was endorsing Walker).

Mitch H. said...

I was born in a small town.

Population was 6000, or so. Same place where Jonathan Frakes was born.


Are you from Bellefonte, MadisonMan, or are you talking about Lewistown or where-ever they had the big hospital 'round these parts back in the Fifties? Because as far as I can tell, Bellefonte's never had a hospital, and we're supposedly Frake's home town.

It'd be nice to get back to the days when that, the Mills Brothers, and the governors thing were what we were known for, as opposed to being "Sandusky Legal Proceedings Central".

sydney said...

Chrissie Hynde wasn't amused by Rush using My City Was Gone, even after annual royalties, resulting in a search for another theme song until Chrissie learned that her parents liked Rush and she agreed to continue the commercial exchange.

Chrissie Hynde owned a restaurant here once. They didn't pay their taxes. Why do celebrities have so much trouble paying their taxes?

And why is it you only hear about liberal celebrities complaining about who plays their music?

EDH said...

I bet Mellencamp uses union musicians and stagehands.

Many local venues are governed by union contracts for stagehands, etc. that become part of the show cost.

But as far as tour roadies hired directly by the act itself, rarely if ever; maybe the occasional rigger or truck driver, but even there, I don't think so.

MadisonMan said...

Because as far as I can tell, Bellefonte's never had a hospital,

Willowbank Office Building. Formerly Willowbank Hospital.

leslyn said...

Thorley Winston said,

"Don’t know about Walker though but he seems to have been on the ball and hopefully hired campaign staffers who did whatever diligence they need to." 4/12/12 11:04 A

HAHAHA. The last thing Walker cares about is running an ethical campaign. He left college when electioneering violations were discovered while he was running for student body president. And do you not know about the ongoing ethics investigations of some of his staffers, which has resulted in felony charges for election violations?

That was the best laugh yet today.

Tarzan said...

SCOTT WALKER FLIPS MELLENCAMP THE BIRD. REPUBLICAN BASE AMUSED!

News at 11.

Mitch H. said...

Willowbank Office Building. Formerly Willowbank Hospital.

Damn, I think somebody's told me that before, and I just forgot about it. It's been government offices since the late Seventies, and I've only lived in the county for twenty years or so... sometimes I get the impression this is the sort of place where you aren't a local until the third generation.

William said...

I always look to the music industry to demonstrate that the utopian goals of progressives can be achieved. Sexism has been eradicated. The income variable between a roadie and a band member is negligible. It's nothing like the variable between a Bain Capital Partner and his secretary. If there are poorer members of the community who cannot afford concert tickets, the band generously donates their time and efforts to give many free concerts for the underprivileged.....Taken all in all, the music industry is where we should look to see progressive ideals fulfilled.