Don’t fear the reaper

It’s probably not in our national interest for the Democratic convention to proceed as planned and crown President Biden its nominee, but I have been looking forward to the announcement of the theme song his campaign staff would come up with to get us in the mood this time around. Some presidential historian with a taste for popular culture — someone like Tevi Troy — could devote a chapter if not a book to the subject of campaign theme songs.

Sticking to theme songs of Democratic candidates in the modern era, I think back to the use of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” by the Clinton campaign in 1992. “Tomorrow” was a euphemism for an upgrade in the perks he would enjoy when he took office, but the song conveyed a suitably optimistic spirit.

It’s the only Democratic campaign theme song I actually remember. I’m not sure about the rest. I hope my research hasn’t failed me significantly on the subsequent campaigns I mention below.

In 2000 the Gore campaign went with Randy Bachman’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.” We narrowly avoided seeing what Gore wanted to show us, but it wouldn’t have been good.

In 2004 John Kerry wanted to tout his service in Vietnam and contrast it with President Bush’s allegedly deficient service as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. His campaign selected Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” as its theme song. It provided a foretaste of the 60 Minutes Rathergate story that put us on the map. The song is more authentic than the Kerry campaign ever was.

In 2008 the Obama campaign seems to have settled on “Yes We Can” by will.i.am. That was in fact the vacuous motto of the Obama campaign.

I’m not sure Hillary Clinton settled on a campaign theme song in 2016. She played several songs, all of them by women. One of the songs she used was Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song.” The song perfectly conveyed her campaign’s losing message:

And all those things I didn’t say
Were wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?

We could hear.

In 2020 the Biden campaign seems to have fastened on Coldplay’s “Sky Full of Stars” while they kept Biden himself in the basement. He couldn’t see the stars.

This time around I have touched base with my usually reliable sources. I can’t identify them by name because they weren’t authorized to speak about the subject. I understand that the 2024 Biden campaign has narrowed the list of possible campaign theme songs to three.

First up is Traffic’s “Shanghai Noodle Factory,” a nod to the Biden family business.

Another possibility is Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” written by Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Jo Armstead. If you saw yesterday’s White House press conference, you know this would be calculated to provide a message of reassurance on the president’s visibly failing condition.

The third candidate is Blue Oyster Cult’s classic “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” by Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser. When we were drawing on the song for posts in 2007, Mr. Roeser wrote us:

I’m Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser from Blue Oyster Cult, lead guitarist and the author and vocalist of “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” I’m a longtime frequent Power Line reader, and I’m enjoying the play BOC and The Reaper have recently gotten on the Power Line blog, in the “Don’t Fear the Professor” and “More Cowbell” posts. Keep up the good work. You folks, Glenn Reynolds and others are some of my prime news aggregators these days. Heck, I’ve even got the t-shirt.

I hope this isn’t a strike against the song’s possible use by the Biden campaign if it survives the reaper.

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