Leading article: False notes

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Musicians like to think they are writing songs for people like themselves, but they can be sorely mistaken, as Tom Petty found when his anthem "American Girl" was blasted out before the right-wing US presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann took the stage. He promptly sent her a "cease and desist" letter.

He is not the only one. Republican Charlie Crist was actually sued by David Byrne when he pinched Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere" for a 2010 election video, while John McCain managed to cheese off John Mellencamp, Foo Fighters, Heart and Jackson Browne in a single campaign. And it doesn't just happen in America. The Rolling Stones objected when "Angie" was hijacked by the German chancellor. And Keane were outraged when David Cameron pinched "Everybody's Changing" for a rally last year.

Most surprising is the tin ear these political magpies reveal. Ronald Reagan purloined "Born in the USA", even though it is about a Vietnam veteran critical of US society. And the Manic Street Preachers' "If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next" was stolen by a British National Party impervious to its purpose as a tribute to Welsh communists in the Spanish Civil War. But then as Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Michelle's namesakes, would have it, "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet".

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