Orleans Not Ones for Bush

Rock band objects to President using its song

October 29, 2004 12:00 AM ET
The Bush-Cheney campaign has agreed to stop playing Orleans' 1976 hit "Still the One" at its rallies after the band's frontman John Hall objected today.

"I was watching TV last night, and I saw the coverage of the campaign in Ohio and they said, 'Here's the new campaign song,' and all of a sudden our voices came out of the speakers," says Hall, who lives in upstate New York. "It was a shock. My wife and I were looking at each other with our mouth's hanging open."

Hall wrote the song with his former wife, Johanna, and says that they and BMI own the publishing, while Orleans own the performance copyright, and that the Bush campaign didn't have permission for either. A former county legislator and school board president, Hall said he is "enthusiastically urging people to vote for John Kerry."

"I certainly hope there would be an apology coming from somewhere," Hall says. "It's an unauthorized use of a double-copyrighted work. But more important to me is to get the knowledge out to the public, our fans and friends that we did not collaborate in this and we are not supporting the re-election of the President."

For Hall and Orleans, who formed in New York in 1972 and still play together, there are financial implications as well as ideological ones. "The song has been the biggest component of our income for the last twenty-eight years," Hall says. "It's been licensed by ABC-TV, Burger King and this summer it was used by Applebee's for a couple months. This election has been so divisive and mean-spirited, I'm afraid if the song is associated with the re-election campaign, advertisers will steer clear for some time."

Ironically, the band passed on an offer two weeks ago to play a Republican fundraiser in Maryland. "It's not because we couldn't use the ten grand -- we're working musicians -- but we would have made a statement by showing up and letting our music be used for that purpose," says Hall. "And it's the same thing here -- we don't agree with that statement."

Calls to the Bush-Cheney campaign were not returned by press time.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »