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CRAIG BROWN: Could Uncle Bulgaria sing for Donald Trump?

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The Rolling Stones are threatening to sue Donald Trump for continuing to play their songs at his rallies when they have expressly asked him not to. As marketing people would say, it’s not good product placement.

They issued their most recent cease-and-desist order after You Can’t Always Get What You Want was played at the President’s infamous cough-’n’-roll rally in Tulsa.

The Stones are not alone in their displeasure. It has become a badge of honour among rock stars to refuse the President permission to play their songs.  

In many ways, Trump is the most rock ’n’ roll of presidents. If Barack Obama had been a singer, he’d have been Nat King Cole: easy and gracious. But with his talent for outrage, Trump is much closer to the iconoclastic spirit of the Sex Pistols or Motley Crue


Adele, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Queen, REM, Aerosmith and Neil Young have all put their feet down.

Earlier this month, the family of the late Tom Petty told Trump to stop using I Won’t Back Down, saying they did not want it to help promote his ‘campaign of hate’. Others are equally strident. 

Not long ago, Luciano Pavarotti’s widow ordered Trump to stop playing her late husband’s music at his rallies.

At this rate, by the time his re-election campaign gets properly under way in the autumn, President Trump’s available choices will have become so meagre that he may have to stride on stage to the catchy strains of Agadoo and leave it to the equally jaunty Remember You’re A Womble.

That it should have come to this! In many ways, Trump is the most rock ’n’ roll of presidents. If Barack Obama had been a singer, he’d have been Nat King Cole: easy and gracious. 

But with his talent for outrage, Trump is much closer to the iconoclastic spirit of the Sex Pistols or Motley Crue. Yet however hard he tries, the rock community refuses to have anything to do with him.

Obama managed to get Aretha Franklin to sing at his first inauguration, and Beyonce to sing at his second. Poor old Trump has had no such luck. 

Kiss, Garth Brooks, Moby, Andrea Bocelli and Charlotte Church were among those who refused. He was forced to settle for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

By the age of seven, Donald had already established something of a love/hate relationship with musicians. 

In his 1987 best-selling book The Art Of The Deal, he confesses — or perhaps ‘boasts’ is the more appropriate word — that he hit his music teacher. The reason, it seems, is that young Donald already knew more about music.

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‘In the second grade I actually gave a teacher a black eye — I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled. I’m not proud of that, but it’s clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way.’

Bizarrely, Trump’s favourite singer seems to be Elton John. Of course, they have both had problems with their hair, but is that enough? In his book Think Like A Billionaire (2004), Trump ranked Elton with his other two favourites, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. 

‘I never get tired of listening to them and probably never will . . . Any album by any of them is bound to be fantastic.’

In Think Like A Champion (2009) he saw similarities between himself and Elton. ‘Can you imagine if . . . Elton John was happy to just sing for himself in a garage somewhere? There’s nothing wrong with bringing your talents to the surface. Having an ego and acknowledging it is a healthy choice.’

The President’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton has now written a tell-all book in which he reveals Trump name-dropped Elton John at his first meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. 

‘Trump mused that six months earlier, he was calling Kim “little rocket man”, and asked if Kim knew who Elton John was. He thought “rocket man” was a compliment. Kim kept laughing.’

Back in the U.S., Trump signed a copy of a CD of Rocket Man, and pestered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hand it to Kim. 

‘Getting this CD to Kim remained a high priority for several months,’ observes Bolton. And how has Donald’s persistence been rewarded by his idol? 

Once again, he has been rebuffed: Elton John has objected to Trump playing Rocket Man at his rallies.

Might I suggest a suitable compromise? At the President’s next rally, his arrival on stage should be accompanied by Elton’s Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. 

And with his poll ratings falling, perhaps Don’t Go Breaking My Heart would be the most fitting send-off.

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