During December of 2011, board certified music therapist Daniel Tague posted “The Influence of Music on Behavior: The Election Edition” in which he highlighted the purpose of election music was “to stir emotion”, “to create a storyline”, and”to remind us of the past”. (Daniel also posed many questions, none of which will be answered in this post.) This post and news articles highlighting copyright issues with election music , has inspired me to look at songs from past elections to lead conversation in my assisted living groups.
My search first led me to the Library of Congress which has music listed from the campaign of 1840 including:
- Tippacanoe and Tyler Too!
- Grand Log Cabin March
- The Harrison Waltz
- The Harrison Song
One of President Lincolns campaign songs was “Battle Cry of Freedom”. While I don’t think there are many older adults who would be familiar with the 1840 election songs, I think they would be familiar with some from the 1920’s through the 1990’s. Here are a few presidential campaign songs as shown by Wikipedia which older adults might recognize:
- 1928: Al Smith: “Sidewalks of New York“
- 1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Happy Days Are Here Again“
- 1948: Harry S Truman: “I’m Just Wild About Harry“
- 1960: John F. Kennedy: “High Hopes“
- 1972: George McGovern: “Bridge over Troubled Water” (Paul Simon)
- 1980: Ronald Reagan “California Here We Come”
- 1984: Walter Mondale “Gonna Fly Now“
- 1988: George H. W. Bush: “This Land Is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie)
- 1988: Michael Dukakis: “America” (Neil Diamond)
- 1992: Bill Clinton: Don’t Stop (Fleetwood Mac)
- 1992: Ross Perot: Crazy (Patsy Cline)
A match the song to the candidate would be a great activity along with singing many of these tunes. They could also be discussed to whether they were used “to stir emotion”, “to create a storyline”, or “to remind us of the past”.
How would you use this list? What are your views on the purpose these songs served? Share your thoughts in the comments below.