It was reported today that Van Halen object to the use of their song Right Now by John McCain yesterday when announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate. The band released a statement saying "Permission was not sought or granted, nor would it have been given." Presumably McCain's handlers are more familiar with the song from it's use in a 1992 Pepsi ad, than it's origins on an album called F.U.C.K. The 1991 record's full title is For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which seems to champion rape or prostitution or some other form of illegal sex (perhaps sodomy, which was illegal in most states, even between a husband and wife, until 2003).
George W. Bush also used the track as one of his theme songs, often playing it at rallies during the 2000 campaign. When Van Halen reunited for a 2004 tour, they projected the Right Now music video, with the addition of an image of Bush and the caption "right now nothing is more expensive than regret."
Other songs McCain has used until he was asked to stop include Frankie Valli's Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Jackson Browne's Running on Empty, Chuck Berry's Johnny B Goode and two songs by John Mellencamp - Pink Houses and Our Country. Even McCain's self-professed favorite band, Abba, objected to his use of Take A Chance On Me. It's not only songwriters offended at the misappropriation of their work - Mike Myers recently demanded an end to the unauthorized use of the Wayne's World "We're not worthy" clip.
My earliest memory of musicians battling candidates over the right to use their music (and the implied endorsement) was when Reagan mistook Bruce Springsteen's anti-war song Born in the USA as a patriotic anthem, and Springsteen had to set the record straight. Last week the Democrats used the song, either with permission, or without complaint.