You’ve not really made it as a lefty rock star until some right-wing politician steals and misinterprets one of your songs for use at a campaign rally.
There’s Ronald Reagan repurposing Bruce Springsteen’s anti-war song “Born in the U.S.A.” as a patriotic anthem, or Tom Petty sending George W. Bush a cease-and-desist back in 2000 for using his song, “I Won’t Back Down,” at campaign events.
But seminal 80s alt-rockers R.E.M. were probably not the first band you’d think of as providing fodder for Republican presidential candidates. Their brand of dour and obscure pop doesn’t exactly get you pumped up the way Springsteen, Petty, or even Survivor might. Unless, of course, depressing is the theme you are going for. And with Trump running a campaign based on the idea that America is headed straight down the tubes, Michael Stipe and co.’s 1987 hit, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” really kinda works.
Of course, for the boys of R.E.M., it doesn’t work at all. Taking to former bandmate Mike Mills’ Twitter account, the R.E.M.’s erstwhile frontman Michael Stipe had some pretty nasty words for Trump and the rest of the Republican field.
In an official statement, the band wrote on Facebook:
While we do not authorize or condone the use of our music at this political event, and do ask that these candidates cease and desist from doing so, let us remember that there are things of greater importance at stake here. The media and the American voter should focus on the bigger picture, and not allow grandstanding politicians to distract us from the pressing issues of the day and of the current Presidential campaign.