Campaign Songs of Yesteryear

At the APSA I picked up a copy of a CD of “Presidential Campaign Songs, 1789-1996” released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. It’s a very interesting record, for all kinds of reasons, but rather than talking about those reasons I thought I’d just post the words to “Why Not The Best?”, by John L. Turner.

I heard a young man speaking out just the other day;
I stopped just to listen to what he had to say;
He spoke straight and simple — by that I was impressed.
He said, “Once and for all, why not the best?”He said his name was Jimmy Carter and he was running for President,
And he laid out a plan of action — made a lot of sense!
He talked about the government and how it used to be, for you and me;
That’s the way it ought to be, right now:
Once and for all, why not the best?

He spoke plain and simple and I began to understand
I was listening to quite a man, talking to me.
I began to see…
We need Jimmy Carter!
Why settle for less?
America —
Once and for all, why not the best?

We need Jimmy Carter!
We can’t afford to settle for less,
America —
Once and for all, why not the best?
Why not the best?
Why not the best?

Other highlights include “Huzzah for Madison, Huzzah!”, “Get on a Raft with Taft” and “Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge”. Sadly, the disc’s producers couldn’t find a song commemorating Chester Arthur.

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