A Rush Limbaugh Playlist: What Else Could Upset Artists Like Peter Gabriel?

This is how these two men represent themselves on Facebook.
This is how these two men represent themselves on Facebook.

There are a lot of people upset with Rush Limbaugh.

If you've heard what Limbaugh had to say about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke, then you can guess which parties are upset with him. Even a professional troll faces repercussions for calling a 30 year old college student "a slut".

It's not surprising that women's rights groups would be angered by what he said. It's not surprising that advertisers have started to jump ship. It's not even particularly surprising that President Obama called Fluke to encourage her to keep speaking up for the causes she believes in.

It was a bit surprising when Peter Gabriel got involved.

From the official Peter Gabriel Facebook Page:

Peter was appalled to learn that his music was linked to Rush Limbaugh's extraordinary attack on Sandra Flute. It is obvious from anyone that knows Peter's work that he would never approve such a use. He has asked his representatives to make sure his music is withdrawn and especially from these unfair aggressive and ignorant comments.

Having never listened to Limbaugh's show before, I had no idea he even played music. In fact, my initial response was "I wasn't aware that Gabriel and Limbaugh shared much of an audience." Then I watched the clip linked above.

Bumper music. That's radio speak for the "short clip of music that leads into the host talking." It's used to smooth out transitions between the talk show and the commercials.

I don't know how much involvement Limbaugh has with the selection of his bumper music. I know that before he became the divisive personality he is today that he was a disc jockey for a number of years. I'm curious about this because I'm curious about the decision to use "Sledgehammer' in the first place.

"Open up your fruit cage/ Where the fruit is as sweet as can be" right before you call a girl a slut? That's not provocative or funny; that's creepy.

Since Rocks Off is a music blog, I thought it be an interesting experiment to see what kind of music was being used on the show. After all, maybe he's playing some really killer jams before and after his talking points. I sat down for a few hours Monday, listened, and made some notes.

You're welcome, by the way.


The Pretenders, "My City Was Gone": This is the theme song to the show, played at the start of every hour. I'm not well-versed in The Pretenders, and I'll confess that I had to look up the lyrics to see if there was a reason this song was the song to start the show.

Seeing the city and countryside you love being torn down and paved over? Sounds like an adult version of The Lorax.

I'm not really sure what all that has to do with the show. Is it a sarcastic joke to use an anti-capitalist song to start off a pro-capitalist show? Does Limbaugh identify with the idea of the government sweeping in and ruining what's good? Either way, it's a good choice for a theme song: Catchy, but not obnoxious.

The Jimmy Castor Bunch, "Troglodyte":

If "Sledgehammer" was the A-side of the Fluke drama single, then "Troglodyte" is the lesser known B-side. Depending on your point of view, Limbaugh was using this song to either describe how Romney and company looked like cavemen over the birth-control debate or he really just wanted to use the phrase

"Butt Sisters"

a whole bunch on the radio.

How you get from calling men troglodytes to calling a woman a slut is something I'm not quite sure I understand. What I do know is that this song is funky, way funkier than I would have expected from this show.

The Police - "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da": I don't have a real radio in my office, so I had to stream a lot of these broadcasts online. I mention this because I'm not sure if this song was a choice by the show or just a program director trying to be cute. Either way, it felt like it fit the style of the show.

It's got all the qualities one could want for a Rush Limbaugh Show bumper - a catchy melody, a vintage sound, and lyrics that can be used to either bolster your point or view or mock the opposition. In my head I imagine someone out there, waiting for his good buddy Rush to come back from break, and having a serious emotional moment as they realize something about this song speaks to them. Good for them.


I thought those songs were going to be the only music-related things the show would give me, but I got an unexpected bonus. A caller wanted to talk about the double standards in America, and how he was upset about how Rush was being treated. Limbaugh agreed, because: of the greatest illustrations of it is that rappers can practically say anything they want about women, and it's called art. And they win awards for it.

I hesitate to speculate, but if he feels that strongly about the subject I can only assume that's the reason he doesn't use more rap music in his show bumps. Someone should make that guy a mixtape so he learns that in 2012 hip-hop isn't all about bitches and hoes.

As for the Peter Gabriel situation, while he may want his songs removed from the broadcast, he may not get what he wants. The fair-use doctrine is a tricky bit of legal work. I haven't passed the bar, but I know enough to know that if Gabriel wanted to pursue legal action he'd have an uphill fight.

But who knows what Limbaugh will do once he sees the complaint. Maybe he'll decide to respect the wishes of the artist and use one of the other countless songs available to him. After all, he has a lot on his plate right now. And the next time he wants to call someone a slut or a prostitute?

I hear "Cat Scratch Fever" has a pretty bitchin' guitar riff.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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