Songbird in Senate chirps political tunes

Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) isn’t the only prolific songwriter in Congress. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has penned hundreds of songs, from religious hymns to ballads for his closest friends (among them Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Muhammad Ali). He’s also waded into the waters of campaign-song writing.

In an e-mail interview, Hatch said that an original campaign song “can really speak to the heart of a candidate.”

What do you think makes a good campaign song or political song?

A good political song needs to accomplish two things: move the emotions of an audience and relate to qualities found in the candidate.

Do you think political songs should be originally written? It seems as though most candidates these days adapt popular songs to their campaigns, though politicians used to have songs written for them.
Either kind can work. Popular songs are certainly easier to relate to because audiences have heard them over and over again and have already formed a connection to the song. However, an original song can really speak to the heart of a candidate.

Have you ever written a campaign or political song? If so, what are they and why did you write them?
I have written dozens of patriotic songs. A few of the songs I have written have been used at political or patriotic rallies over the years. “Freedom’s Light” has been used many times by the Republican Party in my state, and at political functions over the years. “Heal Our Land” has been sung by many church choirs at patriotic functions, and has been performed by the Rev. Wintley Phipps on two very distinguished occasions — at the inauguration of President Bush, and on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” following the Sept. 11 tragedy. For the fun of it, I even wrote a campaign song for John McCain — “Together Forever.”