Few of us want to hear politicians, and not many want to even hear about one. Occasionally, however, hearing the name of a governing official is actually joyful, because the reference comes in a song.
Here are fourteen of those, all mentioning a politician or government leader.
Harry Truman by Chicago
President number 33 succeeded Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but his biggest honor may be having one of America’s most successful bands pay musical homage to him.
Here’s To the State of Richard Nixon by Phil Ochs
John Lennon was not the only popular songwriter on the alleged enemies list of the only President to resign while in office, for the anti-war singer Ochs made Nixon unhappy with ditties like this one.
Abraham, Martin and John by Dion
Many years had passed since his “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer” dominated rock radio, so this track about a trio of civic leaders served as somewhat of a comeback for Dion.
Eisenhower Blues by Elvis Costello
T-Bone Burnett worked with Costello on King of America, the folksy acoustic record from which this retro track spawned.
Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation by Tom Paxton
What the President actually said to the nation was less important than the fact that it was so cleverly satirized in this track from one of Bob Dylan’s folk peers.
Little Hitler by Nick Lowe
Germany’s notorious leader is used as a symbol in this track from Rock and Roll Jesus, which later inspired friend Elvis Costello to record “Two Little Hitlers” for his Armed Forces album.
Joe McCarthy’s Ghost by the Minutemen
Senator McCarthy is still remembered as the politician who led to the blacklisting of any prominent person rumored to have leanings toward the left of the political spectrum during the Red Scare.
Say Ho by Scott Miller and the Commonwealth
Born in Tennessee, which is where Miller hails from, San Houston went West to help Texas achieve prominence.
Churchill’s Speech by Iron Maiden
That Great Britain’s Prime Minister would appear in a song should not be surprising, except that he is mentioned in one by an American hard rock band.
Mandela Day by Simple Minds
The revered President of South Africa can be found in a lot of songs from the Eighties and Nineties, but the New Wave band is the most famous to put him in the title.
Che Guevara Tee Shirt by Richard Shindell
Part of the New Folk movement along with John Gorka, Shindell could write poignantly about personal topics as well as political.
White Bones of Allende by Tom Paxton
Back in the Sixties earlier had skewered LBJ, but a decade later Paxton praised a Latin American leader.
The Ballad of Spiro Agnew by John Denver
Most of Denver’s politics were confined to environmental issues, but he did call out the Vice President of Nixon on this classic tune.
Poor Napoleon by Elvis Costello
An Englishman showing sympathy for a French emperor probably would not have happened a hundred years before, but this case appeared in 1986 on Costello’s Blood and Chocolate album.