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No "Heart" for Sarah Palin: The rock band objects to GOP playing its song

The rock group Heart is miffed at Republicans for playing one of its biggest hits, "Barracuda," after John McCain's speech Thursday night at the GOP's convention in St. Paul. Nancy and Ann Wilosn of the rock band Heart object to the use of the groups song

It was an unquestionably fitting song for the balloon-drop-and-confetti celebration: the nickname of McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is "Barracuda."

And she, after all, turned out to be the convention's star attraction. ("Sarahcuda" buttons, bumper stickers, T-shirts, etc. are all the rage at the moment for many Republicans.)

But Heart's lead singers, sisters Ann (at right in photo) and Nancy Wilson (who also plays guitar), announced Friday that Universal Music Publishing and Sony BMG have sent a "cease-and-desist" letter demanding that McCain's campaign stop playing the tune "as the congratulatory theme for Sarah Palin."

"The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted permission," Heart announced on its website. "We have asked the Republican campaign not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored."

In a statement posted on Entertainment Weekly’s website, the Wilson sisters said 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 '70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The 'barracuda' represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there.”

Ah, but matters are rarely straightforward in the music industry.

Reuters reports that copyright law "may not be on the Wilsons' side 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."

Also according to Reuters, Roger Fisher, one of the song's co-writers and a former guitarist for the group, had no problem with the GOP's use of the tune. He termed it a "win-win" situation, saying Heart gets publicity and royalties, while Republicans benefit from "the ingenious placement of a kick-ass song."

-- Michael Finnegan / Don Frederick

Comments () | Archives (34)

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What the Hell is up with Republicans stealing artists songs? Why do they feel that they need not ask permission or pay royalties? Is this part of the "We are above the law" mentality entrenched in the mindset of so many Republican politicians?

John McCain has repeatedly stolen the musical property of numerous artists since he has started his campaign. I am really fed up with the sanctimonious holier than thou hypocrites committing crimes as though there was an entitlement.

This is very reflective of the character of the man.

I USED to like Heart. Sarah Palin represents me as a woman. How dare they speak for me as a woman. This is all part of the Hollywood/Rock and Roll mindset...they think they speak for the rest of us.

Some of these bands have not been heard of in years I wish that the conventions would stop using their music who needs it anyway. And the bands should not be whining at least their music is heard again coming out of moth balls and maybe selling a cd or two.

Read the last part of the article STOP THIEF. These selfish indignant B$%&*@s HAVE been paid. Stupid!!
Reuters reports that copyright law "may not be on the Wilsons' side 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."

Also according to Reuters, Roger Fisher, one of the song's co-writers and a former guitarist for the group, had no problem with the GOP's use of the tune. He termed it a "win-win" situation, saying Heart gets publicity and royalties, while Republicans benefit from "the ingenious placement of a kick-ass song."

It is funny that a Republican loyal to Palin would see things in such a way that they have any right to use anything they chose without permission. It is almost a theme that GOP has that they don't respect property rights except where it suits them specifically.
For what its worth, I doubt McCain's campaign meant to break any law and perhaps they haven't but their supporters are uncannily self absorbed. "They think they speak for the rest of us." No. They speak for their own work and not for the GOP. Apparently, Christy speaks for the rest of us.

If Heart is this narrow minded and petty, I refuse to play their music anymore! This is unfortunate, because I truly
WAS a big fan. I love Sarah Paliln.

Christy, who are you to call yourself "the rest of us"? I am not part of Hollywood or rock and roll, but Heart sure as heck does speak for me! And many, many other women. So please do not refer to yourself as "the rest of us". Because it is insulting to the rest of us. Thanks, Heart, for standing up for women everywhere.

This is stupid. They let Honda use they're song to promote a stupid car and now they have a problem with them useing it at the convention? How did that car commercial represent the "scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business"? Also they didn't need premission as the song's licensed for public performance they already got their money.

Obviously they didn't HAVE to get permission to play because Heart has gotten paid as THEY chose and the music is public not private anymore. Do I have to pay Heart to play the music at my wedding too? McCain is not using it as a fund raising song, REMEMBER McCain kept his word and taking PUBLIC FINANCE.

Stop it with the whinny women thing get though, the fiancée a DC Firefighter and Army LT has advance the equal work for equal pay far more than a group of whiners about a song. Sarah Palin is advancing the equal pay for equal work to THE highest degree.

Heart does not want it plaid BECAUSE they are not getting paid, that is their reason. Not over some higher MORAL right, it is about MONEY.

I won't be sarcastic here, but I think this will sell a whole bunch of music for a band I have not thought of in 15 years easy. The baby boomers are here. Everybody needs to let off some steam. Get some relief from all this stress!

Heart got paid for their song and then tell the payer to not play it?


As long as you are being paid for your product, you can not prevent the buyer from using it. That's democracy and Market Capitalism for you.

Otherwise, Heart, you are nothing but a robber, a thief and a cheater.

Get over yourself Heart. You just turned away one of the ten people who actually listen to your music.

Stop Thief is either cleverly trying to drum up sympathy for McCain by tossing out a bogus argument - or hopelessly stupid.

Heart is a has been geriatric rock band with over the hill performers.

Who cares about your dumb song.

Get a life.

This objection business is all very funny. Heart relocated to Canada in the 70's so that the male members of the band could avoid the draft. Wasn't it nice of a war hero's campaign to overlook this cowardice and play their little magnum opus anyway? Hilarious.

Before you liberals get all worked up against McCain/Palin and the GOP about the Wilson sisters' protest of their song Barracuda being used in the convention this week, please KNOW THIS:

The Wilson sisters GAVE PERMISSION to the GOP to use this song when they signed their ASCAP Agreement. There is NO QUESTION that the GOP (and any other user with a valid ASCAP license) has full permission to use any song in the ASCAP catalog for public performance (Concerts, Muzak, Radio, TV, Sporting Events, etc.).

There is no further permission that can be granted by the sisters, or that can be revoked.

The GOP is not stealing. They are legally and ethically using the music and are PAYING TO DO SO. And, as I'm sure you've deduced by now, the Wilson sisters (along with their other 2 co-writers) are MAKING MONEY.

The Wilson sisters are either ignorant or willfully misleading the public for their own personal gain (which we all know they could use) or for political gain.

I understand, appreciate and defend their right to speak out against a candidate they do not support, but they cannot invoke their status as a copyright owner to do so as, in this case, it's an exercise in futility. Universal/BMG can be ordered to send all the cease and desist letters they want to, but it will do no good.

They should shut up, collect the royalty checks and donate them to Obama to reduce his campaign debt which he'll clearly have after the election.

That is pretty funny. BUT just so you know, there was probably an event company who put the RNC on --- so they are really to blame. BUT NICE TRYING TO DOG THE REPULICANS!

While the song is in the "public domain", it is the principle of the thing. It implies that Heart, namely Ann and Nancy, support the GOP ticket. If the GOP insist on using the Barracuda song, okay, they're not doing anything illegal, but they should honor the wishes of the songwriters in this case. Same goes for any other candidate, GOP or Dem.

As a stay-at-home mom, you'd expect me to absolutely love Sarah Palin. However, I DO NOT support Ms. Palin and her radical ideologies. I'm voting for Obama!

Did you see AC/DC was also used at the RNC? Too funny. I thought republicans considered that satanic? People were even singing along like they know the lyrics

How ridiculous! But again, more music and hollywood garbage to make them feel "important". No one cares about "heart" anymore and they should be thrilled that they got the media attention! Of course they are! They took the money, knew the song would be played and figured what better way to get more attention than to lie afterwards. "BOO HOO! They played our songs and we are liberals so we don't like that" IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT US! YIPEEEE!!!

I used to be a fan of Heart. I am not anymore. I actually saw them in concert recently. I will never listen to their music again. What was wrong with Palin using that song. They have made lots of money off that song. They made more money because Palin used their song. Why couldn't they be happy that she enjoyed and used their music. That was a good complement and free publicity.

This is so funny, yet typical of the hypocritical antics of liberals in this country. How upset were Nancy and Ann when Republicans were paying money for their albums and making them rich? I'll bet they gave back all that money, didn't they? Heart should feel lucky that they're getting any publicity these days.

Talk about STUPID! I never heard of Heart until now so who is helping out who?? Go back to your cave of anonymity Heart! Sell your song out of your car!

It is 100% legal for the GOP to play these songs.

The copyright is available for anyone to play (and pay) in a public venue.


Saracuda will be an excellent VP!

Christy, The Wilson sisters said Palin's views and beliefs "in now way represents us as American Women" refering to themselves. I don't think they were speaking for you.

Scott, Why is Palin holding a fund raiser in Dallas soon? I thought they only used public money? (which I resent by the way but I suppose it is better than the sex scandal Oil companies pouring money in, and I don't for a minute believe they have not received private funds, hence the coming fund raiser in Dallas) So, what do you think of that.

All, This is so much more than advertising a car, to have a song used when you completely oppose a lot of what the candidate stands for. It's about morals and ethics and I for one would not want anything I created to contribute in any way to helping these crazies get elected.

God help us all.

The art (the song) was created by Heart; they have the right to be dismayed at the way in which it was used. No one can take away from them that, in the mid 70's, two totally smoking sisters who played rock music as well (if not better) than their male counters, own a place in history. To say they're over the hill, or resort to ad hominem is showing a true lack of creativity... It's ironic that most critics lack, and long for, the very talents they critique. Notice that reactionaries prefer name-calling over wit?

It's their property and it shouldn't be used against their wishes. Heart didn't make it in their industries for their genitalia and Sarah Palin shouldn't either!

Mccain Palin 2008:
An unemployment check in every mailbox. A coat hanger in every back alley.

You know even with all these journalists(oxymoron), entertainers and millionaires backing Obama and doing their best to sabotage McCain/Palin...they are still losing. Good to know their money can't buy everything.
No Heart For Heart for me. I'm not missing much though, eh? For that matter neither is the McCain campaign.

Christy, Heart's statement says nothing about speaking for all women. They are speaking for themselves. The "permission" angle has never been totally clear to me (when you do "permission" for these things), but there was never any statement from Ann and Nancy Wilson or Roger Fisher about royalties not being paid. They simply don't want people to think that by the GOP's use of the song, that means they're supporting the candidate. In a message Fisher sent out to his mailing list, he said he would send all royalties from the GOPs use of the song to the Obama campaign.

I would really like to know why people would stop listening to an artist they like because of their views. Can you explain that? I have hundreds of records in my collection, and if I had to agree with what every artist on the record thought/said/did in their personal life, I'd probably have to throw out the majority of them. It just seems crazy to me. Ditto films, TV shows, etc. Heck, I wouldn't be able to hold a job; I'm sure there are people at my place of work who don't share my views on issues. Sometimes I wonder how people manage to deal with the real world...are they just in a little bubble where everyone around them shares their views? How is that possible, unless you're living in a town of 10 and never turn on the TV, internet, etc?

And BTW, Heart is hardly "Hollywood"; when they made it big they didn't relocate to LA, they bought nice homes in Washington state.

Divided we Fail....That's exactly what Heart represents to me now. Was a huge fan but with comments like that I'll have to reconsider my choice of music. Besides this is America and if the Wilson sisters didn't already know, in this country we can play and listen to who ever we want. If the shallow sisters don't like it well there's always 1-800-GET A GRIP! To the GOP as well as the Democrats ROCK ON!!!!!

Mary, Mary quite contrary why does your brain not grow...."I'm voting for Obama.....NEWS FLASH....nobody cares. Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh.

This is in response to the statement that Palin has interest in women's rights. She has done very little of the sort. In fact, Joe Biden is the one who has fought for our rights for decades. Did you know that he was one of the main authors for the Violence Against Womens Act of 1994, which calls for protection against domestic violence and gender based crimes? He also convinced multiple technological companies to fix the domestic violence hotline in Texas. So please do not vote for Palin solely because she is a woman. As stated above, Palin has done very little. In fact, the only action she has taken regarding women at all is helping Ted Stevens (who is rapidly becoming one of the most crooked Senators in history) form the "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc" which provides political training for Republicans in Alaska only. Please please please do not vote for Palin solely because she is a woman. If you do, you will be doing women a diservice.

I just think it is hilarious how quickly these comments have turned into a political argument.


Priorities.. Learn them.

She should have to pay royalties for wearing the Superman logo on her shirt.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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