Chuck Berry is cool, as we’ve opined before.
For a US presidential candidate, there is nothing better than a rocking anthem to pump up the crowds and project the sort of imagery that could help win the keys to the White House.
The Republican hopeful John McCain may be pushing 72, but his “town hall” events can be as noisy as the stadiums where Barack Obama appears on stage to the strains of U2’s “Beautiful Day.” But the McCain camp is having trouble settling on a suitable campaign anthem. After searching for months, it finally picked “Johnny B Goode” – Chuck Berry’s rock ‘n’ roll classic from 1958. The high-power guitar licks and “Go, Johnny, go” chorus put a spring in Mr McCain’s step. When asked why he chose it, he quipped: “It might be because it is the only one [the artist] hasn’t complained about us using.”
Berry, 81, may not have complained about his song being appropriated by Mr McCain, but he has made it clear he would prefer Barack Obama in the White House. “America has finally come to this point where you can pick a man of colour and that not be a drawback,” Berry said. “It’s no question, myself being a man of colour. I mean, you have to feel good about it.”
The anointment of Mr Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate was, he added, “definitely a proud and successful moment for all the people of this country – not just black people, but Americans in general”.
Berry, known as the “father of rock ‘n’ roll”, recounted: “In the Fifties there were certain places we couldn’t ride on the bus, and now there is a possibility of a black man being in White House.” “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last,” he added, quoting Martin Luther King.
There was a groan at McCain headquarters as it suffered yet another musical derailment. An attempt to use Abba’s “Take A Chance On Me” also bombed. “We played it a couple times and it’s my understanding [Abba] went berserk,” Mr McCain said.
Probably because Republicans and artists don’t mix well. I’m hard pressed to think of a prominent rock musician who is a die-hard Republican.