One of the campaign buttons used in the 1996 Presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Bob Dole (R-KS).
In the 1996 presidential race, U.S. Senator Bob Dole, Republican from Kansas, ran against incumbent President Bill Clinton. The Demo- crats and President Clinton had enjoyed a solid first term in the White House following the 1992 election, as the U.S. economy had prospered amid a generally peaceful global context. On Capitol Hill, however, the Republicans had come to power as a result of gains made in the mid-term 1994 congressional elections, led by Rep. Newt Gingrich. The Republicans captured majorities in both the House and the Senate and were hoping they might win the White House in 1996 as well.
Bob Dole, a popular World War II veteran and much respected member of Congress, was first elected to national office in 1960. He became involved in Presidential politics in 1976 when he served as Gerald Ford’s running mate in a losing contest to the Democrat’s slate of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale. Again in 1980 and 1988, Dole sought the Republican presidential nomination, losing out both times in the primaries, respectively, to Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr.
Bob Dole on Senate floor, June 11, 1996, announcing his farewell to colleagues to focus on his Presidential bid.
In 1996, however, he became the front runner and won the Republican nomination, besting a field that included Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, populist Pat Buchanan, Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander, publisher Steve Forbes and others. Dole chose former Cabinet Secretary Jack Kemp of New York as his running mate. In addition to facing the Democrats’ Bill Clinton-Al Gore, Dole and Clinton also faced third-party candidate, Ross Perot. In the election, the Clinton-Gore ticket prevailed, winning by a substantial margin in both the popular vote and the electoral college. But during that election year there were some interesting twists and turns, not the least of which was some campaign music that cropped up in Bob Dole’s campaign.
Sam & Dave on album cover of their 1967 hit song, "Soul Man."
In the summer of 1996, Sam Moore, who 30 years earlier was a member of the rock n’ roll duo “Sam & Dave,” re-recorded a 1967 hit song that he and partner Dave Prater had made popular, entitled “Soul Man.” Moore adapted the song for use in Bob Dole’s campaign, keeping the same underlying sound and melody but adding a few new lyrics. In the process, the song’s namesake and chief refrain of “I’m a soul man” became “I’m a Dole man.” Dole then started using the song at his campaign rallies. The lyrics and origins of this song, however — coming out of Detroit’s inner city and forming the beginnings of 1960s African American soul music — were somewhat far afield from the conservative heritage of Kansan Bob Dole.
“Soul Man” Sam & Dave
Coming to you on a dusty road
Good loving, I got a truck load
And when you get it,
you got something
Don’t worry, ’cause I’m coming
[Refrain] I’m a soul man, I’m a soul man
I’m a soul man, I’m a soul man
Got what I got the hard way
And I make it better,
each and every day
So honey, said don’t you fret
‘Cause you ain’t seen nothing yet
[Repeat refrain] I was brought up on a side street
I learned how to love
before I could eat
I was educated at Woodstock
When I start loving,
whoa I can’t stop
[Repeat refrain...] Just grab the rope and
I’ll pull you in
Give you hope and be
your only boyfriend
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I’m talking about a soul man,
soul man, soul man, soul man…. [Ad lib to fade...]
“Soul Man” was written in 1967 by Isaac Hayes and David Porter who then worked in Detroit for the Stax record label of Atlantic Records. At least part of the inspiration for “Soul Man” reportedly came to Hayes in July 1967, in the aftermath of the 12th Street riot in Detroit, Michigan. During those troubled days, black Detroit residents had selectively marked certain buildings with the word “soul” to protect them from damage. The buildings so marked where mostly stores or other structures owned and/or operated by African-Americans. In the midst of those times, Hayes and songwriting partner David Porter were moved to write something that captured “a story about one’s struggle to rise above his present conditions,” as well as a song that conveyed a measure of pride — almost a kind boasting — as in, “I’m a soul man, and proud of it.”
Music Player “I’m A Soul Man”
In any case, Hayes and Porter crafted the song and lyrics that summer. Singers Sam Moore and Dave Prater recorded it on the Stax record label, with the musical backing of the house band at the time, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, a band that had their own hit songs, such as the 1962 instrumental, “Green Onions.” But Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” was issued in the summer of 1967. It became the most successful Stax single to date upon its release.
During October-November 1967, the single peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart for about seven weeks, and at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for about three weeks. It stayed in the Top 40 for nearly three months.
Early Soul Artists
Sam Moore and Dave Prater seen here in a 1960s’ photo used for a later album cover
“Soul Man” was the first successful pop hit single for Sam and Dave. An earlier song, “Hold On, I’m Comin”, had been a No. 1 hit on the R& B charts in the summer of 1966. “Soul Man” was later followed by other hits through 1968, including: “I Thank You”, “When Something is Wrong with My Baby”, “Wrap It Up”, and others. In the 1965-168 period, Sam & Dave were especially successful on the R&B chart, scoring ten consecutive Top 20 singles and three consecutive Top 10 albums. Their crossover appeal to white pop audiences helped pave the way for a major break out of what came to be known as soul music. “Soul Man,” in fact, was one of the first songs by a black group to top the pop charts using the word “soul”, helping define that genre. “Soul Man” was a No. 2 pop hit in November 1967. “Soul Man” was awarded the 1968 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental. Over the years, the song has also been recognized for its influence by the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Rolling Stone magazine,and RIAA Songs of the Century. The song, re-recorded by Sam Moore and Lou Reed, was also featured as the soundtrack and title for a 1986 film Soul Man, a movie about a white guy who pretends to be black so he can get a scholarship to Harvard. In 1988, Sam Moore’s original partner, Dave Prater, was killed in an automobile accident. In 1992, Moore and his former partner were inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Moore thereafter continued his own career, recording and performing through the 1990s. In 1994, his visibility increased somewhat after he did a duet with Conway Twitty on “Rainy Night In Georgia.” Then in 1996 Moore became involved with Bob Dole’s campaign.
Bob Dole speaks at a campaign rally in Madison, September 5, 1996. Photo by Joseph W. Jackson III, Wisconsin State Journal.
Politics & Music
Politicians for years have sought slogans, catchy jingles, and popular music to use in their campaigns. For Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s it was “Happy Days are Here Again,” also a perennial favorite of Democrats and practically any candidate who wins. One of FDR’s later Democrat rivals, Al Smith, used “East Side, West Side” in one of his campaigns. Jack Kennedy in 1960 had Frank Sinatra sing a little ditty for his campaign. And in recent years, some politicians have sought to associate themselves with one or another genre of music or particular musicians, all to curry favor with certain voter blocs.
In the 1992 campaign, candidate and then Arkansas Governor, Bill Clinton, had made good use of a baby boomer- favored Fleetwood Mac tune, “Don’t Stop” (a use which initially brought some objection from songwriter and band member Christine McVie, who in early 1992 asked Governor Bill Clinton to stop using it). By 1996, Dole, who was then 73 years old, wanted music that helped him reach younger audiences. “Soul Man” was a good jumpy tune, and could get folks in a good mood, part of the role of any campaign music. Sam Moore had re-written the lyrics for the campaign, with some lines that — at least in one version — purposely spoofed Dole’s age, which was something of an issue in the campaign. But the song also included a few digs that were aimed at the opposition, such as: “And he [Dole] ain’t from Hope, and he don’t have no girl friends, no!” The Dole team liked what they heard and began using the song pretty regularly at rallies and campaign stops.
'Soul Man' record sleeve.
In 1996, of course, Bob Dole wasn’t the only candidate using popular music during the campaign season. In fact, as the two political conventions rolled out that August, a whole range of music was used as part each party’s respective “show,” ever mindful of the TV and listening audiences — as well as the need to fire up convention delegates.
Campaign button for Repub- lican Convention, San Diego, CA, August 1996.
The Republicans were up first in San Diego. As Time magazine reported on August 15th: “Inside the Convention Center, bright placards, balloons and deliriously happy rally troops find every TV camera as speaker after speaker repeats the mantra of Hope, Growth and Victory. Everywhere are the strains of “I’m a Dole Man!” and “You’ve Got To Be A Football Hero” and everyone is on message…” The Republicans also made use of the “Macarena” at their convention, a Los del Rio’s hit that was then also a popular dance. The Democrats did as well, with Vice President Al Gore gaining some fame for his robotic interpretation of the dance at one point. Gore had used Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” as a theme song in some of his previous campaigning. But in San Diego, the Republicans used a range of music throughout their program, as New York Times reporterJon Parles later recounted:
“…So the band in San Diego had a role like Paul Shaffer’s group on The Late Show With David Letterman. Each top speaker was ushered in like a talk-show guest, with a theme [song] that had a more or less obvious allusion: state songs for elected officials, ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ for Gen. Colin L. Powell, ‘My Girl’ for the nominee’s wife, Elizabeth Dole.
1996 Republican campaign button featuring the Bob Dole-Jack Kemp ticket.
Bob Dole made his entrance to the theme from ‘Rocky,’ seeking the mantle of the good-hearted, hard-punching, working-class underdog. After Mr. Dole’s acceptance speech, in which he invoked the honorable values of past eras, the country singer Travis Tritt sang a stern postscript, declaring, ‘I wish I could turn the clock back to the way my daddy said it was before.’…
When the Republican band wanted to ratchet up enthusiasm, it turned to soul standards. Mr. Dole’s theme on the road has been ‘Dole Man’… ‘Shout,’ the Isley Brothers song, provided the beat for the convention’s biggest floor demonstration. Mr. Dole has been denouncing the indulgences of the generation represented by Bill Clinton, but he has latched on to baby-boomer favorites for the campaign…..”
At the Democratic convention, too, a range of pop tunes and live performances were prominent parts of the program, from the cast of the Broadway play Rent performing “Seasons of Love” and Emmylou Harris singing “Abraham, Martin and John,” to Aretha Franklin doing the national anthem. There was also a hint of Chicago’s “Beginnings” following Clinton’s acceptance speech, with its Latin percussion, big-band horns, and lyrics that promised “only the beginning, only just the start.”
In September 1996, Bob Dole was joined by his ally Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at the American Legion's convention in Salt Lake City.
“Dole Man” Continues
Following the conventions, and into September, Dole’s campaign continued using Sam Moore’s “Dole Man” adaptation at its rallies. However, it turned out that Sam Moore was not really in a position to grant Dole the legal right to use this song, even in its variant and parody forms with adjusted lyrics. For Sam Moore neither owned the song nor its music publishing rights. The song was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter as described above, and publishing company Rondor Music International Inc.,also had some control over the song’s rights and use. Rondor was owned by Jerry Moss and Herb Alpert, who were politically liberal. The holders of music publishing rights can object to the use of the composition if it is used in ways that can be seen as “commercial,” or if the song is at risk of losing its integrity, as in this case, by changing words, such as from “soul” to “Dole.”
Rondor Music sent a letter to the Dole campaign threatening to sue if the campaign continued to use the song. Rondor did not agree with the claim by the Dole camp that their use of the song was “fair use”as parody. “…[P]eople may get the impression that David [Porter] and I endorse Bob Dole, which we don’t.” – Isaac Hayes, Sept 1996 In the September 10th, 1996 letter to Dole, Rondor threatened to sue Dole for up to $100,000 each time the song was played at an event. Rondor said that the campaign’s altering the lyrics resulted in an “unauthorized derivative work” that required permission to use. There were also other issues involved, not the least of which was an aura of endorsement the song gave to Dole by association, suggesting the song’s creators were Dole backers. “Soul Man’s” co-writer, Isaac Hayes, spoke out about the song’s use in an interview with the New York Daily News. “Nobody gave any permission here,” Hayes said referring to Dole’s use of the song without permission. “As a U.S. Senator, he ought to know that you can’t do that. It also bothers me because people may get the impression that David [Porter] and I endorse Bob Dole, which we don’t.” In the end, however, no legal action transpired, as the Dole campaign quit using “I’m a Dole Man.”
Bob Dole on the stump, 1996.
In addition to the legal threats, a few press accounts ran that were critical of Dole for using the tune. Charles Memminger of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, for example, offered some of his views in a September 13, 1996 column, having a little fun at Dole’s expense:
“…Playing a hip song like ‘Soul Man’ is supposed make people forget that Dole is older than time. The usual routine is for Dole to bound onto the stage like a mummified rock star while the crowd sings ‘I’m a Dole Man! I’m a Dole Man!’ Republicans can be so cool when they have to be.
Actually, I thought the choice of song was kind of stupid. Half the time, I thought the crowd was bellowing ‘I’m a Dull Man.’ Or ‘I’m a Sold Man.’ It left just too much room for misinterpretation.…Connecting Bob Dole to ‘Soul Man’ is like con- necting Jeffrey Dahmer [mass murderer] to ‘Feel- ings.’ -Charles Memminger Honolulu Star-Bulletin It may not matter, since Rondor Music International, which owns the song, says it’ll sue if Dole doesn’t give up their ‘Soul.’
I think Dole has a legal leg to stand on, since song parodies are considered free speech. And anyone who doesn’t consider “Dole Man” a parody doesn’t understand irony. Connecting Bob Dole to ‘Soul Man’ is like connecting Jeffrey Dahmer [mass murderer] to ‘Feelings.’
Anyway, this is a battle Dole doesn’t have to fight. There are a lot of other songs out there he could rip off that would give him the same chance — which is to say very little — of overcoming his 20 point poll deficit to Bill Clinton…”
Mark Steyn, writing in Slate.com in October 1996 observed that “Soul Man” was “so un-Dole.” He also called it a parody, adding: “Dole obviously has never heard of it, any more than he’s heard of Tupac Shakur or those other gangsta rappers his advisers periodically call on him to denounce…” More ironic, continued Steyn, “is that the song is an exquisite musicalization of the candidate’s most frequently cited defect: his campaign’s lack of any central theme. ‘Dole Man’ isn’t about anything at all….”
Springsteen & Rabbitt
Springsteen's 'Born in the USA.'
Bob Dole’s troubles with campaign music, however, didn’t end with “Soul Man.” Looking for other music to use in place of “Soul Man,” Dole’s campaign came up with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” which was used in early October 1996 as a Bob Dole caravan rolled into Red Bank, New Jersey for a campaign rally. That prompted Springsteen himself to write an open letter to his local newspaper, The Press of Asbury Park, New Jersey: “I read in The Press this morning that my music was appropriated for the Republican rally for Bob Dole in Red Bank yesterday. Just for the record, I’d like to make clear that it was used without my permission and I am not a supporter of the Republican ticket.”
Dole’s campaign then went the country music route, asking for permission to use the song “American Boy” by Eddie Rabbitt, a song released in 1990 from Rabbitt’s Jersey Boy album, shown below. The song was quite popular then, reaching No. 11 on country charts, Rabbitt’s first in the Top 40. The song was also especially popular among U.S. servicemen and their families during the 1991 Gulf War. The song, for many Dole supporters, was seen as a much more appropriate “Bob Dole” tune.
Bob Dole’s campaign found some compatible campaign music in Eddie Rabbitt’e ‘American Boy’.
In the song, Rabbitt’s character says he wants to “live in a place where they name their kids Billy,” cheer at football games on Friday night, and go wherever he pleases. In this kind of place, he explains, he’s a free man. In the song, he also explains:
I’m an American boy.
Drive me a Chevy, aint got no Peugeot.
My older brother was a G.I.-Joe.
Red, white and blue from my head to my toes.
I’m an American boy.
The song also includes, at certain points, words and speech excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr., Neil Armstrong and John F. Kennedy. In October 1996, Dole’s campaign asked Rabbitt for permission to use the song at their political rallies, with Dole reportedly saying in the request: “I’m really a big fan and I really enjoy your music and I really like your song.” Rabbitt gave Dole’s campaign permission to use the song, personally responding, “with my pleasure, you can use my song.” For a time, the Dole campaign was also using the theme from Rocky, the 1976 Sylvester Stallone film.
Sam & Dole
Bob Dole photo, 1990s.
In any case, following the November 1996 election, the campaign music ended for Bob Dole, as the Clinton-Gore ticket swept to a second term. Dole then began a new phase of his career, becoming a senior advisor at a Washington, D.C. law firm, and settling into what appeared to be a fairly comfortable and prosperous political afterlife of lobbying, public speaking, celebrity advertising, board appointments, and occasional diplomatic missions. In January, 1997 at a White House ceremony, Dole was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award made to persons deemed to have made especially meritorious contributions to the nation. Dole also served as the National Chairman of the World War II Memorial Campaign for the monument that was constructed in Washington, D.C. Back in his home state of Kansas, meanwhile, The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics was opened at the University of Kansas in July 2003. The $11 million, 28,000-square-foot facility houses Dole’s papers and hosts frequent political events and seminars. Dole’s 1996 opponent, Bill Clinton, gave one of the first “Bob Dole Lectures” there in 2004.
Sam Moore on 'The Tavis Smiley Show,' Sept 2007.
Sam Moore, meanwhile, continued recording and touring with his own musical career through the 1990s and 2000s. In 2002 Moore’s solo album, Plenty Good Lovin‘, originally recorded in 1971 but never released, finally came to record stores. “Soul Man” and the Sam & Dave act of the 1960s continued to collect kudos as well. In 1999, “Soul Man” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone magazine named “Soul Man” one of the 500 greatest songs of all time in December 2004. Sam & Dave were also honored at the Stax Museum Memphis, Tennessee, opened in 2003, which features them prominently in a museum film and a permanent wall display. In December 2008, Sam & Dave, the Original Soul Men DVD was released, featuring video performances of Sam & Dave from 1966-1980.
However, in one interesting turn of events in the 2008 presidential election, Sam Moore once again became involved with political campaign music. In 2008, Moore sent a cease and desist letter to Barack Obama’s campaign to stop the using the Sam & Dave song “Hold On I’m Coming” at political rallies. Yet, apparently there were no hard feelings here, as in January 2009, Moore performed with Sting and Elvis Costello at one of Barack Obama’s inaugural balls.
Bill Gates silhouetted against the “start” button during a video portion of the Windows 95 launch at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, August 1995. AP photo.
In the annals of advertising history, one of the great coups in the use of rock ‘n roll music to help sell things came in the summer of 1995 when Bill Gates of the Microsoft Corporation used the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” song to help launch his company’s Windows 95 computer software. As the story goes, it was Gates’ idea to use the song, as the tune dovetailed nicely with the prominent “start button” feature that appeared on the Windows computer screen. Initially it was rumored that Gates paid something in the neigh- borhood of $10-to-$14 million to the Stones to use their song. The actual figure may have been lower than that. But as the story goes, Gates reportedly asked Jagger personally how much it would cost to use the song. Jagger, being the naughty boy he is, threw out what he thought would be a very high number, something in the millions; a number that would surely dissuade Gates in his quest. But Jagger’s ploy didn’t phase Gates — at least according to legend. Whatever amount Jagger had suggested, Gates agreed to it on the spot. Still, there came some longer negotiations regarding the details on rights and usage. But the deal did get made.
Once the song was wedded to the Microsoft campaign and its TV spot, most who heard and/or saw it agreed it was a most effective piece of commercial persua- sion. “The power-guitar chords are unmistakably familiar, imprinted on us through decades of party time,” wrote Newsweek’s Stephen Levy describing the opening bars of “Start Me Up” in his September 1995 piece on the Windows launch. He called the tune’s use by Microsoft an attempt to “anthemize” the Windows 95 operating system. “The purchase of that classic hook,” he wrote, “symbolizes the brilliant way that Microsoft marketing wizards have managed to transmogrify a technological molehill into the Mount McKinley of software…”
In the TV spot itself, as seen above, a series of quick-cut screen shots are shown with children and adults working with computers in various settings as descriptive word titles for those uses flash across the screen in sync with the Stones’ music and the ad’s “start” theme — Start Exploring, Start Discovering, Start Learning, Start Doing, Start Organizing, Start Connecting, Start Managing, Start Creating, Start Playing, Start Moving, and finally, Start Windows 95. As the ad closes with the music still playing, the final screen shot has the Microsoft Windows 95 logo and then the last phrase, “Where do you want to go today?” But the Stones’ music is definitely effective in carrying the message and setting an upbeat tone.
‘Start Me Up’ began as a reggae tune in earlier years, but was turned into a more hard-driving rock sound for use in this ‘Tatto You’ album by 1981.
“Start Me Up” actually began its musical journey with the Stones back in the 1970s. It was one of the songs used in recording sessions in Munich, Germany during 1975 for the album Black and Blue. Initially the song was recorded as a reggae-rock track, but after dozens of takes the band stopped recording it, as it reminded them of something on the radio. The song also cropped up from time to time in other Stones recording sessions in the late 1970s, and at some point it had bee given working titles such as “Never Stop” and “Start It Up.” But it had never been formally recorded or released. By 1981, heading out to tour and surveying their old taped archive, a version of the song was found that had more of a rock sound to it they liked and soon began re-working it. This version, with overdubbing, was tracked in early 1981, mixing in some unique reverb, with final touches added in a New York recording session, including Jagger’s switch in lyrics from “start it up” to “start me up.” The lyrics in the final version allude partly to motorcycle metaphors and the rider’s love interest, with hidden and not-so-hidden meanings and sexually-loaded double-entendre throughout. A few of the lines in the final tune are similar to some used by a Keith Richards- favored blues singer named Lucille Bogan.
‘Start Me Up’ cover sleeve for Rolling Stones single released in August 1981.
One recent reviewer of the song at the James BioMagazine notes that while much of the music world was hurting following the death of John Lennon in 1980, and writing maudlin tributes, the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” came as “a reaffirmation of rock music’s vitality,” showing that the Stones at least “were still keeping the torch alive, as lascivious and as powerful as ever.” This reviewer also added that much of the music genre the Stones had made their own — from blues to the urban music of the 70’s and 80’s — was built upon sexual longing. “Maybe that’s why the Stones were better than any other rock band at assimilating those styles;” he wrote, “they understood this reality and, rather than running from it or prettifying it, they reveled in it, pure and unadulterated. ‘Start Me Up’ is the epitome of that…”
In any case, “Start Me Up” in 1981 became a Rolling Stones pop hit and also the lead track on their August 1981 album, Tattoo You. The song was also released as a single. In the U.K., it peaked at No. 7. In the U.S., “Start Me Up” spent three weeks during October and November 1981 at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and in Australia, it went to No. 1. “Start Me Up” thereafter became a popular song for opening the Stones’ live shows, and it has been featured on their live albums as well as most Stones’ compilation albums since its release, and other albums including Rewind (1971-1984), Jump Back, and Forty Licks.
Nearly 15 year after the song’s initial popularity, Bill Gates hit upon the idea of using “Start Me Up” for the Windows 95 launch. Gates happened to meet Mick Jagger at some point and asked him how much it would cost to use the song in advertising. Reportedly, Jagger replied with some amount in the millions — $10 million by one account — a sum, in any case, that Jagger thought would be outrageously high.Microsoft’s “Start Me Up” campaign was aimed at key groups of Rolling Stones followers — from baby boomers to twenty- somethings… But Gates, undeterred, didn’t flinch and agreed to the amount. Still, there were some months of negotiating between Microsoft and the Stones to nail down the song’s use, including talks with the Stones’ agent and financial advisor, Prince Rupert, as well as some direct talks with the Stones in Amsterdam. This was the first time that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the group’s songwriters, had sold a song’s use for advertising. Jagger and Richards hold the rights to Rolling Stones’ songs they have written since 1972. However, some of their earlier songs, which they did not hold the rights to, had been used in previous advertising, including one use of the song “Satisfaction” in a Snickers candy bar ad by Mars, Inc. Jagger and Richards were not happy about that incident, but those rights were held by a former manager. Jagger and Richards had generally not been keen on using their material in advertising, but with Gates and Microsoft, they made a deal.
The Microsoft 'Windows 95' logo.
“Start Me Up” became a key part of the Microsoft product launch, as the consumers the company especially wanted were in that large, tech-savvy and mostly well-off demographic that ranged from baby boomers to twentysomethings — also a key group of Rolling Stones devotees. The commercials with the “Start Me Up” music first aired in August 1995 during NBC’s popular Seinfeld TV show, and continued broadcasting thereafter for a time on other shows as well. The Stones’ music got the attention of Microsoft’s target demographic and beyond, leaving no doubt for some a lasting association between the song and Microsoft’s product. (In fact, a few critics would later refer pejoratively to one of the song’s lines — not used in the ad, however — “you make a grown man cry,” referring to subsequent Windows 95 problems). But the Stones’ song, as important as it was in the Windows 95 launch, was still only part of Microsoft’s much larger $300 million advertising and promotion campaign.
Jay Leno, Too
Microsoft’s Bill Gates on stage with Jay Leno at the Windows 95 launch event in Redmond, WA.
In the U.S., the promotional kick-off for Windows 95 was centered in Redmond, Washington and included popular late-night talk show host Jay Leno, who served as a kind of MC for the ceremonies in a big pavilion event and unveiling on the Microsoft campus. Over 12,500 people were invited to attend the launch, plus live satellite broadcasts were made available in 42 U.S. cities and world capitals. The Rolling Stones tune accompanied Bill Gates on stage as he booted up the new program at the ceremony. It was broadcast live via satellite to other launch events and retail outlets nationwide. Gates’ best line during the show, digging at Jay Leno, was: “Windows 95 is so easy even a talk-show host can figure it out.” The event in Redmond, however, was no casual affair. It took more than 20 days and a crew of over 200 to set it up. It was later described as a cross between a high-tech expo and a carnival, including its own “midway” with various pavilions where attendees could try out the new Windows 95 software and related products. As for the product itself, there were more than 11 million lines of code involved and some 500 people at Microsoft who worked on it, all introduced en masse at one point during the ceremony. But the media blitz for Windows 95 went well beyond the Redmond event, and in fact, all around the world.
USA Today ran a front-page story on the big ‘Windows 95' show that Bill Gates put on in Redmond, WA.
A 30-minute promotional TV video, or “cyber sitcom” as it was called — featured then-popular Friends sitcom TV stars Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry using and highlighting the Windows 95 software. Another Windows 95 “infomercial” with popular ER TV star, Anthony Edwards, also appeared. Print ads and in-store events were also part of the campaign. In London, Microsoft struck a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, owner of The Times of London newspaper, printing 1.5 million copies of a special edition and giving them all way — twice the paper’s normal run of 845,000. Credit for the giveaway was given to Microsoft at the top of the front page in a box that read: “Windows 95 Launch — Today The Times is Free Courtesy of Microsoft.” Also across the bottom of the front page was another Microsoft pitch for its new software: “Windows 95. So Good Even The Times Is Complimentary.” Inside the paper, a Microsoft supplement continued the pitch with articles about the new software, as well as advertising from Microsoft and other computer hardware and software companies and retailers.
In New York, Microsoft’s logo colors — orange, yellow and green — were used for a special lighting of the Empire State Building. In Toronto, a 300-foot Windows 95 banner hung from the CN Tower. New York Times reporter Richard Stevenson wrote that the series of Microsoft promotions were “more reminiscent of the recording industry than the computer business, complete with parties and midnight store openings…”
Return on Investment
Bill Gates and Microsoft, meanwhile, were pretty confident that their $300 million in hype would pay off and that the company would recoup its marketing and promotional outlays — and then some.Roughly 100 million com- puter users with earlier versions of Windows would sooner or later upgrade to Windows 95. They knew at the time there were roughly 100 million computer users who had earlier versions of Windows who would sooner or later upgrade to Windows 95. Then there was at least another $250 million of expected sales from add-on software that could be used with Windows 95. And within days of the launch, millions of copies of Windows 95 were sold; more than 40 million in the first year. Windows 95, in its day, soon became the most successful operating system ever produced. And within three years of its introduction — as is the way of the world with computer software — Windows 95 would be followed by new Microsoft software, Windows 98, and subsequent versions, continuing to present times.
Rolling Stones, circa 2005, from left, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Ronnie Wood.
The Rolling Stones, meanwhile, were quite happy to have been of service for Windows 95, collecting some cool millions for renting out their music, and no doubt, reaping some increased sales of “Start Me Up” and the rest of their music. Microsoft, of course, became one of the world’s most powerful corporations, and Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Article Citation: Jack Doyle, “Start Me Up, 1995,” PopHistoryDig.com,
November 23, 2009.
Sources, Links & Additional Information
Keith Richards & Mick Jagger portrayed on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, 21Aug 1980 with story line: ‘Monuments of Rock. The Rolling Stones: The Band That Refuses to Die.’
Mick Jagger & Keith Richards on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, 7 Sept 1989.
“The Media Business; Microsoft Throws Stones Into Its Windows 95 Ads,” New York Times, August 18, 1995.
Denise Gellene, “Microsoft Hopes Rolling Out Stones Will Gather Interest; Firm Wants its Windows 95 Campaign to Strike a Chord in Old and Young,”Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1995, p. D-1.
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Cover of CD single for the ‘Streets of Philadelphia.’
In 1993, a very moving piece of music about the plight of AIDS victims was written and performed by rock ‘n roll artist Bruce Springsteen for the Hollywood film Phila- delphia. The film stars Tom Hanks, who plays a dying AIDS victim who is wrongly fired from his job at a prestigious law firm. Springsteen’s song, “The Streets of Phila- delphia,” is a haunting, powerful tune that captures the pain and tragedy of AIDS — the immune system disease formally known as “acquired immune deficiency syndrome.”
In the film, the song is used in the opening credits, played over street scenes of Philadelphia as the story opens with Hanks working in a private law firm as a rising young lawyer. But the power of Springsteen’s song, which fit the movie well, went beyond the film’s airing. For some, the music later helped recall particular movie scenes, and for others, their own experi- ences with AIDS victims. In its day, the film, and the “Streets of Philadelphia,” helped to provide a much-needed and more sympathetic understanding of the AIDS epidemic. Tom Hanks received an Oscar for his performance in the film, while the Springsteen song won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and four Grammys.
Music Player “Streets of Philadelphia”
Released in early 1994 as a single and also on the movie soundtrack, the “Streets of Philadelphia” became a top-of-the-charts hit, peaking at No.9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and reaching No.1 in several European countries including France, Germany, Ireland and Norway. Along with the soundtrack, sales of the song exceeded one million copies worldwide. There was also a music video made for the song in which Springsteen is featured walking through the streets of Philadelphia with a short appearance by the Tom Hanks character as well. The song itself has spare musical sound, using a single drum beat at its opening, then merging with an organ/synthesizer, Springsteen’s vocals, and some nice, light backing by a male chorus. The lyrics and arrangement do the rest, making for quite a powerful rendition, especially with lines, such as: “Ain’t no angel gonna greet me, it’s just you and I my friend.” Or, “I walked a thousand miles just to slip this skin…”
Streets of Philadelphia
I was bruised and battered and
I couldn’t tell what I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
Saw my reflection in a window
I didn’t know my own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me
On the streets of Philadelphia
I walked the avenue till my legs felt like stone
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
Just as black and whispering as the rain
On the streets of Philadelphia
Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
It’s just you and I my friend
And my clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
just to slip this skin
The night has fallen, I’m lyin’ awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of Philadelphia
Helping the song’s exposure through 1994 and early 1995 was Springsteen’s perfor- mances during three high-profile, prime-time TV shows — the Hollywood Academy Awards in March 1994; the MTV Music Video Awards in September 1994; and the Grammy Awards in March 1995. Tens of millions saw the song’s performance on those shows. By then, “Streets of Philadelphia” had racked up its awards: a Golden Globe for Best Song; an Oscar for Best Song; four Grammy awards — Best Song, Best Rock Song, Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, Best Song Written for a Motion Picture; and finally, an MTV Video Music Award for Best Video from a Film.
Critics generally had high praise for the film, some noting the effects of its music. Jonathan Demme, the director (Melvin and Howard, 1980; The Silence of the Lambs, 1991), had a particular strategy in mind regarding the film’s music. Demme wanted people not familiar with AIDS to come to the film, and felt that rock muscians contributing to its score might help bring an audience that would not ordinarily come to film about a gay man dying of AIDS. Demme had first thought about using a song like Neil Young’s “Southern Man” for the film’s opening sequence. But he later decided not to use Young’s music at the opening, and kept looking for other possi- bilities. However, Young would write and perform another song for the film used in its closing. More on that later. Still needing an opening song, Demme asked Springsteen to do it. Working from his home studio in New Jersey in the summer of 1993, Springsteen produced a piece using lyrics he had previously written about the death of one of his friends. Not quite satisfied with what he came up with, and finding a rough fit with a rock beat, Springsteen nevertheless sent an early, unfinished demo to Demme for a listen. Demme liked what he heard and the piece soon became part of the film.
“Streets of Philadelphia” is perhaps the most memorable tune that came from the film. But Demme also used other music throughout the movie to enhance and imprint its message. In one memorable scene, Hanks’ character is in the advanced stages of AIDS, but is preparing for his court appearance in a meeting with his own attorney, played by Denzel Washington. Hanks is tethered to a mobile IV unit as the Italian opera Andrea Chénier is playing in the background. Maria Callas is singing “La Mamma Morta.” Hanks, moving around the room attached to the IV unit, proceeds to make an emotional interpretation of the opera song, line by line, for Washington, who is moved and shaken by the episode as he leaves Hanks that evening. Film critic Roger Ebert explains: “…Washington isn’t an opera fan, but as the music plays and Hanks talks over it, passionately explaining it, Washington undergoes a conversion of the soul. What he sees, finally, is a man who loves life and does not want to leave it. And then the action cuts to Washington’s home, late at night, as he stares sleeplessly into the darkness, and we understand what he is feeling.”
At the end of the film, too, there is another powerful and moving scene that is amplified by its music. The setting is at a gathering of friends paying their respects to the family sometime after the Hanks character has succumbed to AIDS. ( The video at right captures the scene, using Spanish subtitles for the music. ) As the camera pans the room of guests, friends are shown greeting one another. After a time showing the guests, the camera then begins to slowly zoom in on a video monitor that is playing a loop of home movies with the Hanks’ character as a child. In the back- ground is the voice of Neil Young, accompanied only by a spare piano. Young sings plaintively in what has been described as his “lost-little-boy” voice. He sings a gentle song with lyrics that cover a lifetime — from childhood and sexual discovery ( “When we were boys and girls / And the secrets came unfurled”), to the grown man’s final fight with AIDS and his community ( “City of brotherly love / Place I call home / Don’t turn your back on me / I don’t want to be alone”). The Young song — titled “Philadelphia” — was also nominated for the Best Song Oscar in the same year with “Streets of Philadelphia,” which took the prize. Demme generally won praise for “book-ending” his film with the two moving, contemporary songs rather than using the more traditional classical scoring.
In the end, Philadelphia went a long way in helping to increase AIDS awareness while removing some of the disease’s social stigma. The film was one of the first Hollywood productions to make AIDS its primary subject, and is historically important for that reason. Now some eighteen years old, Philadelphia and its music seem to hold up quite well with each passing year.
Steve Hochman, “Touching the Heart of ‘Philadelphia’,” Los Angeles Times, January 2, 1994, p. 60.
Stephen Holden, “Eloquent Movies With Eloquent Soundtracks,” New York Times, January 30, 1994.
Steve Hochman, “The Boss? Neil Young? Are We in the Right Place?,” Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1994, p. 27.
Robert Hilburn, “Springsteen Closes Rock Music Gap: For the First Time in 40 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hollywood Gives the Best Song Oscar to a Pure Rock Songwriter for ‘Streets of Philadelphia’,” Los Angeles Times, March 22, 1994, p. F-2.
Robert Hilburn, “Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ Heads Our Critic’s Top 10 List at Midyear,” Los Angeles Times, July 2, 1994, p. F-1.