Digital Classroom: Rock & Roll to the White House
Rock music has been the soundtrack for American presidential elections for decades.
Protest songs, campaign rally tunes, fundraising concerts, parodies, and even candidates' own musical performances are all regular parts of the campaign trail. Simon & Garfunkel temporarily reunited to support Democratic candidate George McGovern in 1972. Four years later, Southern rock groups the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Marshall Tucker Band performed fundraising concerts on behalf of a relatively unknown Georgia governor named Jimmy Carter. The Violent Femmes, Frank Zappa, and the Clash rocked out against Ronald Reagan with some strongly worded songs in the 1980s. Fast forward to 1992, and it was Bill Clinton winning over baby boomers with a saxophone performance of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel." Neil Young, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and many others hit the stage in swing states in hopes of electing John Kerry in 2004. Guitar in hand, Bruce Springsteen stumped alongside Obama in 2008. And in 2016, Republican candidate Donald Trump provoked the ire of musicians such as Brian May (Queen), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), and the Rolling Stones with his unsanctioned use of their music at campaign events.
Teachers: Preview all materials for appropriateness for your students.