With the presidential election of 2016 soon approaching, some celebrities are coming out in support of their favorite candidates. The Hill has started a list of celebrity endorsements that includes the most recent announcement by Willie Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” who has got Donald Trump’s back. The musicians range from Dave Mathews who has hope in democratic candidate Bernie Sanders to Kid Rock who seems to think that Republican neurosurgeon Ben Carson makes the most sense.
It seems that throughout history, country music singers and song writers don’t mind expressing their political view points. Some sing about it, some tweet about it, and some throw out those dollars bills to support it. Taste of Country has come up with the most political country singers that don’t mind letting the world know how they feel about certain issues. You would think that with all these artists coming forward with their opinions there would be more songs regarding the election, but I expect in the next year or so we will be seeing a lot more. Let’s take a look through time to see what country singers had to say about political figures and events.
1. “Breadline Blues” written and performed by Bernard “Slim” Smith (1931)
1932, a time of the Great Depression and an election with hope for better days. What’s a breadline you ask? A line of people waiting to receive free food. With 13 million americans unemployed, Smith is begging that in the election of 1932 “when you place your vote, please don’t vote wrong.” He doesn’t seem to be too happy with current president Hoover and it turns out most people weren’t. Franklin D. Roosevelt won in a landslide, so it seems most Americans agreed with his song.
2. “PT-109” written by Marijohn Wilkin and Fred Burch and performed by Jimmy Dean (1962)
Everyone loves a war hero. John F. Kennedy led the P.T. 109 into battle in WWII and although the ship “was gone…Kennedy and his crew lived on.” This song was released two years after JFK was elected president and shows the admiration and respect that most people had for him. Little did he know that he would soon be killed…
3. “Looking For More in ’64” written and performed by Jim Nesbitt (1964)
Again a song about being poor and needing help from a president who will fix it all. This song about a farmer (surprise country theme) struggling to get by and asking for more help in the 1964 election. In LBJ vs Goldwater, LBJ wins in a landslide with his promise of a “Great Society.” With this song and “Breadline Blues” it is clear that when political change is needed, country artists will be the first to step up and express their views.
4. “Ballad of JFK” written by Hayes & Wammack and performed by Autry Inman (1964)
Clearly the 60’s was a time of presidential crisis. Another song, among many, about JFK and his heroic life. This song was written after his assassination. The whole song discusses how much he loved America and was a “hero on the land and on the sea.” He fought for our country in the war and survived and ended up being killed a “leader of our land.” Patriotism and war seems to be a constant theme in country music songs that never died and never will.
5. “Welcome to the Future” written by Chris DuBois and Brad Paisley and performed by Brad Paisley (2009)
Fast forward 40 years and wow things have changed. There is wifi, woman’s rights, and an African American president. All of these have drastically changed the way we view politics. News spreads fast and people have faith in equality. But no matter how much it changes, people are still singing about it. Paisley was inspired to write this after the election of Obama into office. He discusses old time political issues, like war and racism, and how these issues have evolved over time. Some may call him a “different kind of cowboy” but he is ever so hopeful for a welcoming future.
6. “American Flag on the Moon” written and performed by Brad Paisley (2014)
Again hopeful. Paisley recaps the people who fought hard for this land (patriotism theme…again) and is inspired by his son because he is the next generation of voters. He wants people to “believe impossible things” because look at all the things we have accomplished. I mean “there’s an American flag on the moon.” It doesn’t get much cooler than that. Unlike the early singers from the 30’s he has a positive outlook on our past and is excited for the future.
7. “Keep the Change” by Hank Williams Jr. (2012)
And here’s the curveball. Sometimes people aren’t too happy with current situation and don’t hold anything back. Blunt and to the point is how I would describe these lyrics. He is not a fan of President Obama and believes this “country’s sure as hell been goin’ down the drain.” While everyone can’t always agree with current politics, at least this country artist has the guts to put his opinions out there. In an interview with The Rolling Stone, he will go all the way to just flat out say that Obama hates America. It doesn’t get much more opinionated than that.
8. “Tough People Do” by Trace Adkins (2012)
Adkins performed this song at the Republican National Conference in 2012 when he was backing Mitt Romney and admits to being a republican since the day he could vote. Some people want to call this song a “GOP anthem.” The fact that this song was being called an anthem for a certain political party proves that country music can truly be a icon for politics.
In the end I think we can all agree that those redneck, truck loving country artists (whether right or left winged) aren’t afraid to address controversial topics. It may get some people worked up when they hear some of these songs, but these singers don’t care. They are willing to stand up for what they believe in.