'Angie' hits wrong note with Rolling Stones

'Frumpy' German election candidate's bid for street cred lands her in the soup

Politicians in need of votes have often sought a blast of rock and roll to boost their street cred. So it was that Angela Merkel, the German election candidate termed 'frumpy' by unkind critics, turned to the thrusting sexual charisma of big-lipped Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones as the apparently perfect carrot to the baby boom generation.

Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union, adopted an appropriately titled track, 'Angie', from the Stones' album Goats Head Soup, as its campaign theme tune. At a recent Dresden campaign rally, when Merkel finished speaking and the strains of 'Angie' filled the air, party officials presumably hoped that the somewhat inappropriate English lyrics - 'All the dreams we held so close seemed to all go up in smoke... You can't say we're satisfied,' - would be lost in translation.

But now Merkel, 51, whose campaign to oust Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has wobbled in recent weeks, has a new headache: the Rolling Stones have expressed surprise and disappointment at the use of the 1973 hit. 'We didn't grant permission,' said a spokesman for the band, who start their 31st global tour in Boston tonight.

'We are surprised that permission was not requested. If it had been, we would have said no.'

The row is revealed by journalist Catherine Mayer in an article about the German election in Time magazine, published tomorrow.

A spokesman for the CDU disputed the claim, saying the party cleared usage of excerpts from the song with the German music distribution rights regulator, Gema. 'We checked with Gema and what we are doing is correct,' he told Time

Merkel is not the first political leader to get into hot water with musicians. Earlier this year Labour used U2's 'Beautiful Day' for its general election campaign without first obtaining permission from the band. And after last year's Labour conference, where Fatboy Slim's - Norman's Cook's - 'Right Here, Right Now,' was played, Cook said: 'I want people to know I had no choice.'

But so far Merkel has got off lightly. When Massive Attack's 'Man Next Door' was used by William Hague at the 2000 Conservative conference, the band said: 'How dare they use our music to promote their bullshit?'


David Smith

The GuardianTramp

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