Don't use me like that: Tom Petty goes after Michelle Bachmann for unapproved song use

Damn the Torpedoes (album cover)

Well, so much for running down this particular dream.

Adding yet another chapter to the history of disputes between musicians and politicians, Rolling Stone magazine has confirmed reports that Minnesota congresswoman and 2012 presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann has recently gotten on the wrong side of none other than outspoken artist and classic rocker Tom Petty.

After walking out on stage to the music from Petty’s popular hit “American Girl” at a rally this week, Bachmann was quickly sent a cease and desist message from the Heartbreakers band leader due to his displeasure at the song being used as part of a presidential campaign without his permission.

Incredibly, this incident isn’t even the first time Petty has had to intervene on behalf of his music being used in the political arena.

According to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, Petty allowed Democrat Hillary Clinton the use of “American Girl” during her unsuccessful run for the highest office in the land in 2008. But he stepped in during 2000 when word was received that Republican George W. Bush was playing the Full Moon Fever hit “I Won’t Back Down” at rallies.

Petty’s representatives told the future president:

This use has not been approved. Any use made by you or your campaign creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true.

While Bachmann has yet to comment personally on this dispute, she joins a virtual rogue’s gallery of Republicans who have attempted to use the popularity of so-called liberal artists and works during their election efforts.

For example, in 2008 the members of hard rock group Heart publicly protested Sarah Palin’s use of their track “Barracuda” during her entrance at the Republican National Convention.

“I feel completely fucked over,” band guitarist Nancy Wilson told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women.”

Additionally, in 1984 Bruce Springsteen took offense after Ronald Reagan conveniently dropped his name during a stump speech in New Jersey.

Watch video of musician Dave Grohl performing and talking at a John Kerry benefit in 2004 as a response to George W. Bush using the Foo Fighters’ song “Times Like These” for campaign purposes here:

Though the urge to use familiar material is perhaps innate to anyone seeking to reach common ground with others, many politicians would do well in the future to make sure they are at least on the same page as the artists they’re co-opting.

Otherwise, the message received by voters could be one of confusion. And if there is anything that politicians would like to avoid at election time, it is likely the misdirection of the masses (unless of course we’re talking about the public revelation of certain Tweets, eh representative Weiner?).

Plus, I am certain there are other songs out there that better describe Michelle Bachmann than “American Girl.” For instance, “Space Oddity” by David Bowie comes readily to mind. Or maybe, “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

At least Johnny Ramone was a Republican.

For more information on Tom Petty or to see future tour dates please visit

Also, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground and check out concert footage featuring artists like Dinosaur Jr., Garland Jeffreys, and more on the Underground’s official YouTube page.

Author: Michael Cimaomo

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