9/6/08

Barracuda- The Wilson Sisters Taking the Bite Out of Sarah Palin

By Lesbiatopia Feature Writer Sei

On my rack of music CD’s, you will find a very long section beginning with a simple black edged CD and ending with a more rainbow colored one. It takes up about a quarter of my three foot tall CD rack. This is the section dedicated to the band Heart. In there, you will find three pink edged CD’s. They are all special editions, and the top one is Little Queen. The first song from that album is "Barracuda." I have been a fan of the Wilson sisters and their group Heart since I was ten. Twenty-four years later, I am still a huge fan of their work, and I’ll cop to having a major crush on Ann Wilson growing up. I still have my poster from their album Bad Animals.

So, like many of the legions of Heart fans out there, I was appalled and angered by the GOP’s lifting of their signature song "Barracuda" to be used as a backdrop to Sarah Palin. Palin, who earned the nickname Barracuda while playing basketball, was certainly not of the caliber of these two women who suffered greatly to bring us music for more than three decades. When Heart first burst onto the scene in the 1970's, they were attacked by various agents of the music industry. Rumors abounded that the sisters were lesbians, and that they were having an incestuous affair. These rumors were all aimed at ruining what really was one of the first strong, popular women led rock bands. Their response to this, the writing of a single song- Barracuda. The song has become synonymous with the soulless, predatory, and inhumane appearing in movies from Shrek the Third to Wag the Dog, and video games as diverse as Guitar Hero III and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (not all of the versions are by Heart, but rather other artists). Their song "No Other Love" from their 2004 release Jupiter’s Darling appears in the L Word season two.



The use of their song did not go unnoticed by the Wilson sisters. "The sisterly duo known as Heart sent a cease-and-desist notice to the McCain-Palin campaign Thursday afternoon after their hit "Barracuda" was used- twice- without permission as the official rallying cry for the vice presidential candidate after her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention," according to Gina Serpe of E! Online. "‘We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music,’ the Heart duo said in a statement. ‘We hope our wishes will be honored.’" Unfortunately they were not. McCain and Palin appeared on stage after his acceptance speech to the strains of that familiar song. While it is possible the slow, inefficient campaign structure of McCain-Palin simply had not had time to digest the ‘request’. "‘I think it’s completely unfair to be so misrepresented,’ Nancy Wilson told [Entertainment Weekly] Thursday night. ‘I feel completely f–ked over’" A follow up email was sent to EW- "Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late ‘70's as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women (the ‘barracuda’ represents the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC there’s irony in Republican strategits’ choice to make use of it there." This is not the first time the RNC or even the DNC have courted controversy with their choices of theme music. The McCain campaign has already been warned by Boston, John Mellencamp and Jackson Browne over the use of their music. However, Brooks and Dunn have not had any similar reaction to Senator Obama’s use of their song "Only in America".

The Wilson sisters are currently on the last leg of their summer tour. Their next stops are in Cincinnati, Ohio and Clarkson, Michigan, and they will be wrapping things up in Hollywood, California the end of this month. Heart also supports the anti-poverty and anti-AIDS charity ONE. Ann Wilson’s album Hope and Glory is in the stores and contains many great covers as well as the very gentle, somber anti-war ballad "Little Problems, Little Lies" sung from the perspective of a dying solder. Heart is one of the few artists to release an album in each of the four decades that they have been recording. Others in that tiny alum are Aerosmith and Meat Loaf.

http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b27431_Republicans_Take_Heart__Heart_Takes_It_Back.html
http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2008/09/heart-responds.html
http://www.heart-music.com/news/news.asp?item=112960

22 comments:

Paula Brooks said...

I almost cried when I read this article... Thank You Anne and Nancy.... being deaf I have never heard their music before... but I hear what they are saying now and I am sure the GOP did too.

Great Article Sei

Pagan and Proud said...

Bravo to the Wilson Sisters!! Let Caribou Barbie write her own darn theme song.

Venus_Rearmed said...

I love Ann and Nancy Wilson. "Heart" was my mom's favorite band when I was growing up and the first concert I ever went to.

Brava to the Wilson sisters.

Sei said...

Thank you Paula. I hate that the GOP, the party of Law and Order can't follow the laws.

Pagan and Proud- I would hate to see her try. :)

Venus_rearmed- The first concert I went to was also Heart back in '86, if I remember correctly. We were all the way up in the bleachers, but I didn't care. I loved it.

Anonymous said...

I knew Anne and Nancy would not be cool with that! I thought it was a really odd choice to use Barracuda at the closing ceremony too.

Kris said...

I actually knew them personally. My girlfriend back in the day went to school with them in WA. I didn't think they'd have anything to do with McPalin either.

Klassy Girl said...

What, did they run out of Toby Keith songs?

Paula Brooks said...

Last week I did the ASL translation for a Ted Nugent concert...

Between sets all Ted could talk about was guns and killing shit...

I THOUGHT HIM GENERALLY AN ASSHOLE, But hey it was a paying gig

Anyway.... Maybe Sarah should get him to write a song for her, they would be a perfect pairing.

Anonymous said...

Palin's portrayal of Bad Animals, will make her an Easy Target for the Heartless.

Little Queen she aint and I cannot wait for this particular Wild Child to have Fallen from Grace.

I'll guess the Wilson sisters will just have to Wait for an Answer.

Let just hope they don't have go Crazy on Her.

Sei said...

Kris-

That is so. . .well awsome :) And I definately agree, I don't think that they're going to be happy about the GOP taking over their music.

Paula-

I have to agree. I know Nugents a real shitty guy. Vermont has a lot of hunters, but a lot of them aren't about killing things for the sake of killing and taking joy in it. You get a couple of deer and you've got a lot of meat for winter. I especially do not like Palin's views on hunting wolves and bears. I hate the 'shoot anything that moves' mentality.

StevenFL said...

LOL. Don't screw with Heart. The cease and desist order will be obeyed or McCain and Palin will be spending half their campaign run in court with the Wilson sisters.

Ma'amselle Lezident said...

From the L.A. Times:
"Copyright law may not be on the Wilsons' side, however, as the song is licensed for public performance under a blanket fee paid by the venue to ASCAP, the firm that collects royalties on behalf of composers and copyright owners."

I don't think the Wilsons get to decide, unfortunately. A good lesson for prospective musicians--get contracts that give you complete control over your material.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think the Wilsons get to decide, unfortunately. A good lesson for prospective musicians--get contracts that give you complete control over your material."

Once your music is licensed through ASCAP (or BMI), it's out there. It can't be used in a film or TV show without permission, but it can be played in any venue so long as you pay for the privilege. If you decide not to license it through ASCAP or BMI or SESAC, you won't get any airplay. Complete control means no one will play it.

Sei said...

Even if they no longer retain control of the song, there are two things here that could play very much in their favor. The first is that a large enough stink about this gets made, and enough Heart fans hear of this, the GOP looks really bad and might loose voters. They might get away with claiming it for the convention (where it was mostly drowned out by the comentators), but other instances might mean that they will not be able to use it. The third thing really is what this song is about, and even the casual listner of the song knows that it is hardly a flattering or appropreate song. The Wilsons mentioned that in their reply, in fact. It would be like playing Senator McCain on stage to the song "Favorite Son" by CCR (if I remember the song correctly) or "Bungle in the Jungle." Both songs are anti-war songs, and very unflattering. While Barracuda sounds very strong and very intense, most people think it is about a heartless bastard who preys upon women.

This is like the attempt by Reagan to use Born in the USA by Springstein. That song was very anti-war, but the Reagan campaign thought it sounded so patriotic.

(for those who caught it, I deleted my original post of this and reworded it.)

Still, I'm grateful that everyone's been interested in this story. I know it isn't an intense topic, but one I love.

Sei said...

BTW, Ma'amselle Lezident, thank you for bringing that to our attention :) I tried to cover everything when I wrote the story, but I couldn't get everything (or find everything either)

Anonymous said...

Well for what its worth, just the fact that the Wilson Sisters came out and made their very public statements on how they feel about the use of their song and why they are objecting to that use does it for me.

Sei said...

UPDATE-

The licence fee for arena performance of the song was paid, and there is nothing legally that can be done about the convention performances.

However, Roger Fisher, one of the songs four writers which include both Wilson sisters, has informed the BBC that he is donating the entire fee from those three uses to the Obama campaign. One can also hope that Ann and Nancy Wilson follow suit and do the same as the fees could be a sizeable chunk of money. This is, of course, assuming that they have not already donated the maximum amount of money to the campaign.

I am hoping that they will find some use for the fees, and perhaps can donate them to a good charity, if not to a political organization aimed at preventing McCain from winning in November.

Jsmse said...

I am so glad to read this! When I heard "Barracuda" played as I tuned into watch the ridiculousness that was the RNC, I was shocked and appalled. I wondered aloud to my wife whether or not permission and rights had been granted by Heart. I'm sorry to hear they were infringed upon, but I am thrilled to hear they called for a cease and desist.

votetheday.com said...

She uses it illegally, that's for sure. Moreover, she could have at least checked, that The Hearts back Obama...
http://www.votetheday.com/polls/sarah-used-barracuda-198/

Annie said...

OMG I was SO mad when they played this song at the RNC. Glad to see the wilson sisters had something to say about it.

Sei said...

UPDATE- AGAIN. . .

The McCain campaign is continuing to use the song Barracuda at out door rallies for Governor Palin's theme song.

This is disrespectful even if they did pay the fees, and may actually have some legal backlash, not to mention the potential voter backlash.

Thank you goes out to Rachel Maddow, as did a brief segment on her show last night following up on this story.

Hina Ali said...

What a great blog post! Thanks for sharing it on your site.
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