Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker barnstormed the Iowa Freedom Summit last weekend, using an electrifying speech to discuss “common sense conservative reform” and the future of the Republican Party before announcing he was “going to come back many more times in the future,” fueling speculation he’ll seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
However, not everyone was thrilled with the Governor’s performance, and it had nothing to do with his speech; the Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys are upset that Walker used their 2005 hit “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” as introductory music for his remarks.
Walker probably should have asked the band’s permission first, because apparently they “literally hate” him.
— Dropkick Murphys (@DropkickMurphys) January 25, 2015
Walker probably should have known better; according to AFP, Dropkick Murhpys released a song in 2011 called “Take ‘Em Down,” specifically about Wisconsin workers fighting back against Walker’s “anti-union” policies.
This is also not the first time that Dropkick Murhpys have asked a Wisconsin Republican politician to stop using “I’m Shipping Up to Boston;” in 2012, the band ordered then-Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald not to use the song anymore after he played it at the state Republican Party convention, according to the Independent.
Of course, the issue of Republican politicians having trouble finding rousing campaign music is nothing new. In 2012, the New York Times reported that both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, then Republican presidential candidates, were asked to stop using Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag,” respectively.
Those are just the most recent examples; in 2008, then-presidential candidate Sen. John McCain was reportedly sued by Jackson Browne for using the musician’s hit “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad. McCain was forced to pay Browne a cash settlement and issue a public apology. In 2010, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne successfully sued Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for using the group’s “Road to Nowhere” in a campaign ad attacking Marco Rubio. Crist was also forced to issue a public apology.
Ann and Nancy Wilson of the band Heart, Tom Petty, and The Eagles’ Don Henley have all gone after Republican politicians for using their music without permission.
“When you think about every iconic song that has emotional resonance for millions and millions of Americans, in almost every instance, Republican candidates can’t use the song because the artist is not supportive,” Republican campaign strategist Steve Schmidt told the New York Times in 2012. “All these artists are delighted to sell concert tickets to independents and Republicans.”
“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” is Dropkick Murphys’ biggest hit, having been featured prominently in the 2006 movie The Departed. However, the band didn’t write the entire song; folk singer Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics.