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

September 5, 2008 |  4:14 pm

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