I want the sound of Hail to The Chief...only as played by the ramones
March 6, 2008 1:33 PM   Subscribe

So I'm doing a short film about a cynical Gen-Xer who gets to run the country and I'm looking for songs with either The President, Government, Democracy or something similar for the soundtrack. Ideas?

I guess my first thoughts are something like Talking Heads Life During Wartime or London Calling by the clash. Except not those. Because it's not necessarily wartime in the film and it's in America and not the UK.

But I kind of want a darker spirit to the sound of the songs if that makes any sense. Like some sort of president version of Sympathy for the Devil. But the more popular the songs were, the better. Or even if it's just a section of the song that's about said topics that might work.

Or I might just be completely wrong and you all might have much better ideas than me. So don't let me limit you. Hit me with your best songs, Oval Office style.
posted by rileyray3000 to Media & Arts (45 answers total)
Well, 'Sympathy for the Devil' has those lines about dead Kennedys.
posted by box at 1:35 PM on March 6, 2008

Doesn't it youre ntire criteria. but "Might as well be walking on the sun" by Smashmouth entered my head while reading this.
posted by Deep Dish at 1:39 PM on March 6, 2008

Billy Bragg
Pretty much any Bad Religion song.
posted by rhizome at 1:39 PM on March 6, 2008

Pretty much anything off of Plastic Surgery Disasters by the Dead Kennedys.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:39 PM on March 6, 2008

I think this might not be what you're after but I thought I'd throw it out there: Murder the Government by NoFX.
posted by peep at 1:39 PM on March 6, 2008

Democracy - Leonard Cohen
The President's Dead - Okkervil River
posted by ND¢ at 1:40 PM on March 6, 2008

I'm a fan of the Even's 'Dinner with the President'
posted by lesingesavant at 1:40 PM on March 6, 2008

Central Services - I Work for the Government Now
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:40 PM on March 6, 2008

Stars and Stripes of Corruption by Dead Kennedys from Bedtime for Democracy I believe

When the President Talks to God by Bright Eyes
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:41 PM on March 6, 2008

Democracy - Killing Joke
Paragraph President - Blackalicious (well, maybe)
posted by FatherDagon at 1:43 PM on March 6, 2008

Drugstore and Thom Yorke - "El Presidente"
posted by benzo8 at 1:44 PM on March 6, 2008

There are tons of anti-war songs from the Vietnam era, and quite a bit of anti-nuke tunes by heavy metal bands from the 1980s (Megadeth, etc) that mention the President or Congress or whatever, but most of them are mentioned either in passing (not the focal point of the song) or they are in a very negative context.

A couple right off the top of my head would be:

Vote with a Bullet - Corrosion of Conformity
Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Both could fit, but again, not in a positive light.
posted by quin at 1:45 PM on March 6, 2008

"Kill the President"- Coffin Break
posted by josher71 at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2008

Look up some local bands and see if any of them have a song that grabs you and is right for your film. Hell, this is the Internet age, start looking for indie bands online that could fit the bill.

Your chances of getting permission to use a song are much higher if it's not a single off of a mass produced record.

If you want to distribute your short film at all, this could become very important.
posted by ODiV at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

All kinds of songs by Anti-Flag.
posted by tomcochrane at 1:48 PM on March 6, 2008

Nthing Democracy by Leonard Cohen, which was what I came in to suggest. It's even more perfect after reading your full description of what you want.

For a different take on off-beat presidents, there's Jesus Christ For President, lyrics Woody Guthrie, Music and Vocals Billy Bragg & Wilco, on the album Mermaid Avenue.
posted by roombythelake at 1:51 PM on March 6, 2008

Dan Bern's 'My Country II' has a bunch of modern presidential folk on it.
posted by evadery at 1:52 PM on March 6, 2008

Tenacious D - The Government Totally Sucks
posted by crunch buttsteak at 1:58 PM on March 6, 2008

"The President" by Robyn Hitchcock is exactly what you want.

When I hear the word democracy, I reach for my headphones...
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 2:05 PM on March 6, 2008

"Bullet" - Misfits
posted by equalpants at 2:06 PM on March 6, 2008

I forgot Mr. President (Take Pity On The Working Man), though it's baby boomery, not Gen-Xish. Perhaps for ironic use?
posted by roombythelake at 2:07 PM on March 6, 2008

Lonesome Jack - Hegemony
posted by unixrat at 2:07 PM on March 6, 2008

For the early 90's vibe, try Extreme's When I'm President available on the album Pornograffitti
posted by cosmicbandito at 2:19 PM on March 6, 2008

The Monkey That Became President (Pt. 1) by Brotherhood. Best. Politcal. Song. Evar!
posted by MeatLightning at 2:34 PM on March 6, 2008

Geto Boys, "Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta," verse four:

And now, a word from the president!
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Gettin voted into the white house
Everything lookin good to the people of the world
But the mafia family is my boss
So every now and then I owe a favor gettin down
Like lettin a big drug shipment through
And send em to the poor community
So we can bust you know who
So voters of the world keep supportin me
And I promise to take you very far
Other leaders better not upset me
Or Ill send a million troops to die at war
To all you republicans, that helped me win
I sincerely like to thank you
Cuz now I got the world swingin from my nuts
And damn it feels good to be a gangsta

(Lyrics) (Video)
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:40 PM on March 6, 2008

"Here Comes President Kill Again" by XTC seems like just what you're looking for.
posted by ROTFL at 3:03 PM on March 6, 2008

Nthing Radiohead.

But I would also suggest "Mao Tse Tung Said" by Alabama 3.
posted by WPW at 3:09 PM on March 6, 2008

The full Mao Tse Tung Said.
posted by WPW at 3:19 PM on March 6, 2008

The Pharcyde, If I Were President:

Bam! Who's next? (Ooooh)
If I were President, if I were President
I'd make sure all the money spent
onnnnnnnn, good things
I wouldn't have no lint in my pocket
I'd rock it rock it I'd shock it
I would not jock the fact that there are
rich people in the world because yo I got a girl
And she needs new clothes and I need new sneakers
And that's all I know
If I were President, if I were President
If I were President, IF I WERE PRESIDENT!
If I was President (what would you do?)
I would not carry, oh no spare change
I would just rearrange, the whole government structure
Cause there seems to be something that's
messing with the flucture of the money (what?)
It's not coming to me
So now it's time for me to tell my homey Jarod D
So I'm, looking at my wallet and I do not have a buck
Damn I'm out of luck, damn I'm feeling stuck
posted by andifsohow at 3:30 PM on March 6, 2008

"Wont get fooled again" by the Who
posted by canoehead at 3:36 PM on March 6, 2008

President Gas, by the Psychedelic Furs
posted by zadcat at 5:25 PM on March 6, 2008

The Ramones' "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg," which features the chorus "The flag is hanging upside-down." Written in response to Reagan's visit to a cemetery in which SS troops were buried, but it holds up pretty well.
posted by viscountslim at 5:43 PM on March 6, 2008

Call It Democracy, by Bruce Cockburn
posted by docpops at 6:41 PM on March 6, 2008

Atari Teenage Riot - Death of a President D.I.Y.
Bad Religion - You Are (The Government)
The Vandals - Anarchy Burger (Hold The Government)
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:42 PM on March 6, 2008

Bad Religion: The voice of god is government
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:44 PM on March 6, 2008

NOFX's Perfect Government. ("Even if it's easy to be free / What's your definition of freedom? / And who the fuck are you, anyway? / Who the fuck are they? / Who the fuck am I to say? / What the fuck is really going on?")

Fugazi's Promises, not really about government, but more like, I'm speaking and you're speaking and I don't trust either of us.

Potentially many things by Propaghandi (if you can find something subtle; many songs have titles like "Stick The Fucking Flag Up Your Goddam Ass, You Sonofabitch.")
posted by salvia at 7:23 PM on March 6, 2008

I don't really know what you are looking for but what about Untied States of Whatever by Liam Lynch?
posted by mge at 8:08 PM on March 6, 2008

I thought of Jesus Christ for President too, though it might be a bit too "jokey" for your purposes, though Bragg hits just the right combination of humor and outrage.

Also, Ignoreland by REM, is a great rant about political abuses - I think (always hard to tell with REM). Anyway, it seems like it has a similar feel to "London Calling" - very urgent.
posted by lunasol at 8:24 PM on March 6, 2008

the thermals' god and country. some lyrical selections:

pray for a new state/pray for communication/i can hope, see/even if i don't believe...

history will show/our progress is slow/when we win/we win in inches/the future deaf/so the few left/will need a fist/when no one will listen...

pray for a new state/pray for assassination/i can hope, see/even if i don't believe...

(plus it's uber punk rock.)
posted by ncc1701d at 8:35 PM on March 6, 2008

David Byrne - Empire should also work well if you need a properly regal sounding piece.
posted by SansPoint at 9:51 PM on March 6, 2008

Dan Bern - King of the World
posted by mikepop at 5:41 AM on March 7, 2008

Perhaps these are a bit off from a popularity standpoint.

moe. - George <>
Ministry - Thieves <- has a nice hardcore edge. I can see it fitting in with the gen-xer lead.
posted by CoinOp at 6:22 AM on March 7, 2008

Talking Heads also had the song "Don't Worry About the Government." It's not a dark-toned song, but I think the underlying message is kind of cynical.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:14 AM on March 7, 2008

James Brown - Funky President
Parliment - Chocolate City
posted by Pollomacho at 11:53 AM on March 7, 2008

In my mind, the perfect music would be Les Baxter's Wild in the Streets soundtrack.
posted by klangklangston at 2:45 PM on March 16, 2008

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