We all have favourite songs. The ones we believe express our views on
life, love, or -- if you're a Jimmy Buffett fan -- getting loaded in a
Hawaiian shirt. When you get married, or dumped, or hired, or fired, you
pull out that record or CD or iPod and skip to those songs, to help you
feel your feelings more keenly, and with an awesome bass line.
Florida governor Charlie Crist has at least one favourite song. He's
currently running for the United States Senate as an independent, having
broken from the Republican Party. And Mr. Crist thinks that this
favourite song of his also works as a critique of one of his Republican
opponents, a certain Marco Rubio. So Mr. Crist used the song in campaign
ads, in an attempt to get across that Mr. Rubio's ideas are a political
The song is "Road to Nowhere", by Talking Heads. Which, you could
argue, is a bit on-the-nose. Or, if you're David Byrne -- current solo
artist, and former head Talking Head -- you could argue it's a violation
of copyright. Because Charlie Crist didn't secure the rights to "Road
to Nowhere" before he used it in his campaign materials. And if Mr.
Byrne wins the suit he just filed, that will cost Charlie Crist a
million dollars. Not great for a guy who's trying to seem fiscally
Acording to David Byrne, politics has nothing to do with it. He just
doesn't like people using his songs without permission. And he's seeking
a million bucks because, according to his lawyer, Lawrence Iser, that's
the amount Mr. Byrne has been offered for the rights to the song in the
Incidentally, Lawrence Iser also served as Jackson Browne's lawyer,
when the singer sued John McCain for using the song "Running on Empty"
during his 2008 presidential campaign.
And Mr. Iser is, in his words, "fairly astonished" to catch Charlie Crist doing the same thing.
But his opponent, Marco Rubio, can't claim the moral high ground. He's
been using the Steve Miller Band's "Take The Money and Run" to
soundtrack his claims that Mr. Crist took money from Republican
supporters, before he decided to go independent. And last week, Steve
Miller asked Mr. Rubio to please stop using his song.
So be careful when you use a song to get your point across. You could
wind up in a dead end. Speaking of which, here are the Talking Heads.
And don't worry: we're paying them royalties for this.