The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) added to its long history of diving into controversy last week with a “Cease and Desist” letter directed at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The band tweeted the letter on Thursday to argue that Trump does not have the right to use the Free song “All Right Now,” which was rearranged in 1972 for use as the Stanford band’s fight song.
Trump used the song to introduce his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, at a campaign event in New York City last Saturday.
— Edward M. Beaux (@lsjumb) July 21, 2016
“Your use of the song ‘All Right Now’ as background music during the official introduction of your Vice Presidential pick is probably a violation of Free’s common law trademark rights, common law service mark rights, and trade name rights, and this letter constitutes a demand that you cease and desist any and all use of the song ‘All Right Now’ in any campaign-related events, functions, or shindigs,” the letter states.
The band admits that its legal claim is not valid, conceding its members are not lawyers (“but we have binge watched all 20 seasons of ‘Law and Order’ instead of studying for finals”).
Instead, the band stakes a “philosophical claim” over the 1970 song, which the band adopted after it was rearranged by Arthur Barnes, a former professor of music at Stanford. The band explains that it doesn’t want Trump’s “divisive rhetoric” to “tarnish the spirit of the song.”
The band’s request is not entirely self-interested, however. The group humorously suggests that it is also trying to protect Trump from soiling his image as a presidential candidate.
“Also, for the record — the lyrics to ARN are about a dude trying to hook up with a meter maid,” the letter says. “Regardless of the upbeat and encouraging nature of the chorus, we don’t think that’s a message that the 2016 Republican Party really wants to stand behind.”
Alex Ramsey ’17, one of the band’s head writers, told The Daily in an email that the group was surprised by how much publicity the group’s Tweet elicited. The letter has received an “overwhelmingly positive” response, he said.
“We even got some praise from USC’s Marching Band, which is surprising because our two groups don’t normally, uh, see eye to eye,” he wrote.
The letter has been retweeted over 600 times, but Trump has yet to respond. In the letter, the band requests that all questions be reported to the USC Trojan Marching Band.
Contact Tanushri Sundar at tanushrisundar ‘at’ gmail.com.