Stop Using My Song: 35 Artists Who Fought Politicians Over Their Music

From Springsteen vs. Reagan to Neil Young vs. the Donald

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Isaac Hayes vs. Bob Dole
Frans Schellekens/Redferns, J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images33/35

Isaac Hayes vs. Bob Dole

When: 1996
Song: "Soul Man"
Controversy: In 1996, Sam Moore recorded a new version of the 1967 Sam and Dave classic for the Dole campaign, in which "I'm a soul man" became "I'm a Dole man." The reworking also included digs at opponent Bill Clinton, like, "And he [Dole] don't have no girl friends, no!" The Dole campaign loved it and used it regularly, including at that year's Republication convention. It turned out, however, that the rights to the song were not Moore's to give. "Soul Man" was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and some rights were also held by Rondor Music (whose owners were liberals). Rondor sent the campaign a cease-and-desist letter, threatening to sue for $10,000 each time the song was used. Hayes told the New York Daily News, "Nobody gave any permission here," adding, "It also bothers me because people may get the impression that David [Porter] and I endorse Bob Dole, which we don't." As the controversy raged, one journalist, Charles Memminger, wrote in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "Connecting Bob Dole to 'Soul Man' is like connecting Jeffrey Dahmer to 'Feelings.'"
Result: Dole stopped using the song, and no further legal action was taken. Searching for new music to use, the campaign decided on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." until Springsteen protested via an open letter. Eventually the Dole camp settled on "American Boy" by country singer Eddie Rabbitt, who gladly gave permission.

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