Florida Governor Charlie Crist is being sued by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne for allegedly using the band's 1985 hit "Road to Nowhere" in a campaign ad without permission or licensing. Crist could get Byrned for as much as $1 million for repurposing the single in January for a video attack on his main opponent in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat, Marco Rubio. Since then, Crist has switched to running as an independent.
Byrne's lawyer is no stranger to keeping good music out of the ham hands of politicians. Lawrence Iser also represented Jackson Browne in 2008 and reached a settlement in a suit against Republican presidential candidate John McCain regarding unauthorized use of "Running on Empty." According to Byrne, this lawsuit "is not about politics...It's about copyright and
about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and
endorsed him and whatever he stands for." Read his blog on the subject here.
So, if the lawsuit isn't about politics, we can assume -- or at least, pretend -- that Byrne is strictly concerned with the artistic merits of the decision to pair "Road to Nowhere" with "Marco Rubio's numerous changes in position on key conservative issues." The original ad has been removed from YouTube, but a script remains. (Note: Rubio also had to stop using Steve Miller Band's "Take the Money
and Run" in a campaign ad attacking Crist after Miller complained.)
Although "Road to Nowhere" has that mesmerizing a capella opening and
those jaunty snares, it's easy to find a minimum of five Talking Heads
songs that would have made for better audio backdrops for Crist's campaign while staying on message.
5. "Don't Worry About the Government"
Key lyrics: "I see the states,
across this big nation/ I see the laws made in Washington DC/ I think
of the ones I consider my favorites/ I think of the people that are
working for me."
Crist doesn't have to go negative! Here's a chipper side of the Talking
Heads used to speak to the merits of an experienced
4. "Burning Down the House"
Key lyrics: "Hold tight, wait 'til the party's over/ Hold tight, we're in for nasty weather/ There has got to be a way/ Burning down the house."
This song would be slightly better if Crist was running for U.S. House,
but if we must go negative, just put the images of a Senate chamber up
in flames and opponents running away sheepishly. Also, this speaks to a
candidate willing to keep solid policy positions instead of
flip-flopping like Rubio.
3. "Once in a Lifetime"
Key lyrics: "You may ask yourself, how do I work this?/ You may ask yourself, where is that large automobile?/ You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house/ You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful wife."
The anger in David Byrne's voice throughout this song is palpable and infectious. You may tell yourself, this was not my position
on immigration! You may ask yourself, whom do I trust?
2. "Psycho Killer"
Key lyrics: "You start a conversation, you can't even finish it/ You're talkin' a lot, but you're not sayin' anything/ When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed/ Say something once, why say it again?"
Along the lines of the meandering "Road to Nowhere" idea, but taken even further. Rubio
was quoted saying: "Everything is done in the context of the moments in
which you are living." Huh?
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1. "Warning Sign"
Key lyrics: "Warning sign, warning sign/ I see it but I pay no mind/ Hear my voice, hear my voice/ It's saying something and I hope you're concentrating/ I've got money now, I've got money now/ C'mon baby, c'mon baby."
This is the obvious winner. Intense, perverse bass line that smacks like Rubio's waffling about balancing the Florida budget by not accepting stimulus funds, and yet accepting stimulous funds. It's a an obvious "hear me for what I have to say and don't look to party affiliation" sort of lyric as well.