Donald Trump frequently enrages musicians by using their songs without permission during his political rallies. Most recently, he has upset Johnny Marr after footage of the former president playing the Smiths‘ 1982 single “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” at a Trump rally in South Dakota last year emerged online.
Yesterday, an X user posted a clip of the song being played to the crowd at a rally in September, noting, “You actually hear the Smiths more often than you’d think at 2024 Trump rallies.” Marr quickly responded, writing, “Ahh…right…OK. I never in a million years would’ve thought this could come to pass. Consider this shit shut right down right now.”
The original post came in response to reporter Ben Jacobs, who wrote, “As Trump is scheduled to take the stage in Laconia, the new addition to his pre rally music is The Smiths.”
Marr co-wrote “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” with the Smiths frontman Morrissey in 1984. While Morrissey has recently become a divisive figure who has expressed support for the far-right political party For Britain, Marr has spoken out against right-wing politicians who like the Smiths. When former British prime minister David Cameron selected “This Charming Man” as one of his favorite songs on BBC’s Desert Island Discs in 2010, Marr tweeted, “Stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it.”
Multiple musicians have spoken out against the use of their songs by Trump. The Rolling Stones issued a cease-and-desist to prevent the Trump campaign from playing their songs, while the estates of Prince and David Bowie objected to the Republican nominee hopeful using their music during public events. In 2020, the family of Tom Petty sent a cease-and-deist to Trump’s campaign after he played “I Won’t Back Down” at a rally.
“Trump was in no way authorized to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind,” Petty’s estate and rights holders — daughters Adria and Annakim, ex-wife Jane and widow Dana — said in a statement soon after Trump’s Oklahoma rally.
“Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together.”
While many artists have been frustrated by Trump’s use of their music, there’s little they can legally do about it. Campaigns can procure special licenses with publishing giants BMI and ASCAP, which authorizes the public performance of millions of songs at campaign events, which means artists can work with BMI and ASCAP to remove their songs from beneath this umbrella. Marr has yet to confirm whether he will take legal action against the Trump campaign.