Tom Dyer and The True Olympians have released (sorta) a digital single, “The Ballad of Donald John Trump“, the first single from their upcoming, soon to be released album. The song is a completely unbiased accounting of the highlights of Mr. Trump’s presidency to date, delivered using strophic song form, a story-telling format that has been used in protest songs for a mighty long time. And just to be clear this is political speech. That includes the song itself and the fantastic cover painting done by my old friend Dan Lafferty.
Dan did a series of painting last year that were reflective of what he saw as the current president’s approach to governing. A couple of them were used in the video for my song Trump-ville last summer and you can see them on Dan’s Facebook page.
Now we get to the WTF part of the story.
I decided it was time to get this song out to the people while it was still reasonably current, before Mr. Trump did more unpleasant stuff (I had already updated this song twice after I wrote it to keep it current).
So I submitted the song to the digital distributor I use for all GMR releases – they get my stuff on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc. Set the release date as yesterday, Friday, May 25. Wrote a press release, sent it out. Figured all done and moved on to other tasks.
Thursday, I got an email rejecting the single.
Wot the hell says I? “Image of Trump not licensed”? I have written permission from the artist to use his work and I do not need to a political figure’s permission to make comment on their work or use a caricature of their likeness. Doing those things is American as apple pie and protected by the First Amendment says I. I suppose you could make the case that this is commercial speech rather than political speech, which has different rights. I say no. Hell no. As I stated in my response to them, The New York Times does not pay Donald Trump to put pictures of him that they own the rights to in their newspaper and neither do I.
At this point, I have sent all this “up the ladder” to review. I even offered to put a big black bar over Trump’s face (like Art Chantry did for me for a slightly controversial show poster with Bill Clinton long ago), or even just put a big black “Censored” box over the “offending” parts of the cover. I thought that would look pretty nice. I thought of simply denying it was a caricature of DT- saying it was a picture of my Uncle Harry (a trick used with another Art Chantry poster) – but nah, it’s Trump. To date, I haven’t got a response, but I’ll let you know what happens.
So it ain’t on Spotify. Ain’t on iTunes. Ain’t on Apple Music. Ain’t on Amazon. At least not yet. If you want to hear it you need to go to the Green Monkey Records Bandcamp site. Right here: https://greenmonkeyrecords.bandcamp.com/track/the-ballad-of-donald-john-trump – that’s the only place you can hear it. And that is where things sit.
So go check it out. Buy it for a buck if you like to support art and free political speech in America. Or buy it for a buck just because you like to rock out and you think The True Olympians are an inspired bunch (they are!). Or just listen to it and share it with your mom.