1992: Presidential Campaign Songs

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The first election I really paid attention to was the 1992 presidential election.  To this day when I hear “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac, I can see Bill Clinton and Al Gore triumphantly waving amidst star spangled balloons.  Today presidential campaigns don’t use one monolithic song the way they did for generations, which saddens me a little.  I wrote this brief, lighthearted lesson to introduce the Clinton administration as well as to get students thinking about the way media is used to shape political image.

Positives: It’s short, sweet and to-the-point.  With a group of juniors, this took less than half a class period and produced some good discussion.  It also got kids asking good questions about current political campaigns.

Negatives: It doesn’t cover any particular state standards, but at the end of the year when students are in a frenzy to study for finals, a little relaxation isn’t a bad thing.

Materials:

-CD or MP3s of “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac, “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie (or any other folk singer), “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.  This can all be easily obtained on iTunes or Amazon.com inexpensively.

-Printout of lyrics for students (could be done with a partner)

Worksheet with lyrics:

1992 Election: Campaign Songs

Since the dawn of American democracy, political candidates have used music to express their views and attract voters.  Some songs, such as “I like Ike” and “High Hopes” have become a part of American lore.  Others, such as “Get on a Raft with Taft” and “Monroe is the Man” are merely [hilarious] historical footnotes.  As a class, we will listen to the campaign songs of the three major candidates in the 1992 election: William Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ross Perot.  We’ll listen to the mood, tone, and lyrics of each song to figure out how each candidate was trying to present their image as a candidate.

“Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)” – Fleetwood Mac

If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you’ve done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,

It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,
I know you don’t believe that it’s true,
I never meant any harm to you.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Don’t you look back,
Don’t you look back.

1. What is the mood/tone of this song?  (Don’t just write 1 word—be as specific as you can)

2. Since the candidate chose this song, what seems to be important to them?

3. What kind of “image” would this give the candidate?

“This Land is Your Land” – Woody Guthrie

CHORUS: 
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me
Chorus
I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

Chorus

The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting

This land was made for you and me

1. What is the mood/tone of this song?  (Don’t just write 1 word—be as specific as you can)

2. Since the candidate chose this song, what seems to be important to them?

3. What kind of “image” would this give the candidate?

“Crazy” – Patsy Cline

Crazy, I’m crazy for feeling so lonely
I’m crazy, crazy for feeling so blue
I knew you’d love me as long as you wanted
And then someday you’d leave me for somebody new
Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wond’ring what in the world did I do?
Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
I’m crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I’m crazy for loving you
Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
I’m crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I’m crazy for loving you.

1. What is the mood/tone of this song?  (Don’t just write 1 word—be as specific as you can)

2. Since the candidate chose this song, what seems to be important to them?

3. What kind of “image” would this give the candidate?

Summing it all up: If you were an American voter in 1992, which candidate would you have voted for?  Why?

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