Brian Perry – Campaign songs

If you made it to a campaign rally for a presidential campaign last year, chances are you heard heard “Even Better Than The Real Thing” by U2 at President Barack Obama’s rallies or “Born Free” by Kid Rock at Mitt Romney’s rallies.

I collect political memorabilia. There is nothing collectible about a playlist. But years ago, campaigns composed their own songs and I’ve collected several records from Mississippi gubernatorial campaigns which provide a glimpse into the politics, issues and culture of the time.

In 1962, the Mississippi Legislature adopted “Go, Mississippi” by Houston Davis as the state song. While the words were different, the tune was the same as the campaign song Davis wrote for Ross Barnett’s successful 1959 gubernatorial campaign: “Roll With Ross.” When Governor Barnett released his campaign songs on a souvenir record, the A-Side featured “Roll With Ross” and an attack on one of his opponents, Lieutenant Governor Carroll Gartin, titled “Little Carroll’s Last Stand.” Two versions of “Go, Mississippi” are on the B-side.

While the song may harken back to Senator Jim Eastland’s 1954 campaign song by the Mississippi Ramblers – “Cotton State: Roll On Mississippi, Roll On” – the anthem for Barnett in 1959 reflected the main issue of his campaign: “For segregation, one hundred per cent / he’s not a moderate, like some other gent / he’ll fight integration, with forceful intent / Roll with Ross, roll with Ross, he’s his own boss!”

Madison County Journal
5/8/13