But noticeably absent from electoral success are crossovers from the music scene. The conversation about accomplished musicians who have made it in electoral politics pretty much begins and ends with California congressman and 70′s hit-maker Sonny Bono.
A lesser-known example is former Congressman John Hall, who represented New York’s 19th congressional district from 2007-2011. In a previous life, Hall had been co-founder of the pop-rock group “Orleans” and scored hits with “Dance with Me” and “Still the One.” It was that latter song that the George W. Bush re-election campaign tried to appropriate in 2004, much to the chagrin of Hall, a Democrat.
Others like Wyclef Jean have tried and failed, and plenty of musicians lend their fame to politicians, like Kid Rock did for Mitt Romney earlier this week. But finding a musician who becomes a successful politician is about as rare as a multi-platinum-selling accordion player.
Perhaps the traits for musical success aren’t compatible with what it takes to become a politician. Most really excellent musicians I have met don’t have much tolerance for the small talk and glad-handing of a campaign. While acting is a performance craft not dissimilar from political theater, making good music is a talent of a different order.
And finding someone who is successful in politics with musical acumen is quite rare (as the president reminded us recently with his off-key performance of an Al Green song). Although, Utah Sen. Orin Hatch has some experience as a songwriter, with one of his pieces featured in the Steven Soderbergh movie “Ocean’s 12.”
Who knows when we will see another musician follow the trail blazed by Sonny Bono and break into politics. When we do, let’s hope he or she is in tune with voters.