The tricky intersection of music and politics

Some BBC show on the radio earlier had a rundown of the songs various candidates are playing at their rallies. Hillary Clinton has switched from Celine Deon to Tom Petty’s “An American Girl,” while Barack Obama is playing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” And then there’s John Edwards, who’s evidently been playing Bruce Springsteen’s “The River,” quite possibly one of the saddest songs ever written. I understand that thematically it’s in keeping with the message of his campaign, but still:

I got a job working construction
For the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been much work
On account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don’t remember
and Mary acts like she don’t care

But I remember us riding in my brother’s car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I’d lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse, that sends me

Down to the river
Though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight

Man, I’ll bet they’re just dancing in the aisles at the Edwards rally after that one plays. At least he didn’t choose “Atlantic City.”