Aug 062010


Recently, Townsmen were invited to reflect on the following:

Will somebody please explain how and why washed-up rapper Wyclef Jean manages to show up at gigs like this? I have been flummoxed by his red carpet magnetism for years now. I just don’t get it.

And I have to say that I hadn’t given Wyclef Jean much thought up until then. Or after.

Until today, when this headline leapt at me from the pages of the Guardian:

Wyclef Jean confirms he will run for Haiti president

Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born rap star who became one of the world’s most popular hip-hop artists, has told the Guardian that he will run for president of Haiti in the country’s November elections.

Somebody much wiser than me observed that greatest hits albums are like political careers: each tends to end in failure.

But clearly the guy has pull. Or thinks he does. Have any former – or practicing – musicians ever had a successful career in politics?


  21 Responses to “Did somebody speak too soon?”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    The first guy who comes to mind is the singer from Midnight Oil, Peter Garrett (?). Didn’t he actually reach the Australian Parliament?

  2. mockcarr

    Sonny Bono

  3. BigSteve

    Henry VIII was a poet and songwriter. Does being king count as politics? It does have the advantage of allowing you to claim to have written Greensleeves.

    Blur drummer Dave Rowntree recently stood for a seat in the U.K. parliament as a Labour candidate, but as you may have heard his party didn’t fare well this election, and he lost 8,188 to 11,076.

    Bill Clinton played a mean saxophone, and Nixon played a presumably mean piano.

  4. I think Wyclef deserves props for this. Whether or not he is suitably qualified will be left up to voters, but he would certainly be making a sacrifice were he to win. His quality of life would diminish enormously.

    Haiti has generations of corrupt, incompetent, and brutal dictatorships. I think it’s commendable that he’s willing to stick his neck out. Even if he were unqualified for the position, I think he’d be less (or not at all) corrupt and brutal.

    I care nothing about his music, but I respect this move.

  5. alexmagic

    Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura’s rise to political power was not hurt by his integral contributions to the World Wrestling Federation’s well received cover of “Land of 1,000 Dances” back in the ’80s.

  6. I find it really funny that the climax of the movie The Running Man has the governor of California (Arnold) fighting the governor of Minnesota (Jesse) to the death.

  7. BigSteve

    I appreciate chickenfrank’s desire for hope and change in Haiti, but I don’t think we should assume Wyclef Jean’s move is selfless. I don’t know whom to believe, but I’ve read some suspect things about his connections.

  8. I admittedly don’t know the facts, but my instincts tell me that resigning from the full time job of hedonistic Rock Star to pursue a thankless job as the president of a bankrupt, hopeless island of rubble probably includes some degree of selflessness. Or maybe he’s always had a dream of being a dictator. Seems more like a sacrifice to me.

  9. Mr. Moderator

    Being a dictator requires great sacrifice too, or so I’ve been told:)

  10. ladymisskirroyale

    I think that John Kerry played in a surf/garage band.

  11. ladymisskirroyale

    Jello Biafra ran for Green Party President in 2000 but lost out to Nader. He is still involved in politics.

    Fela Kuti ran for President of Nigeria, but also did not win.

  12. Highlee Selasie (sp?) was the president of Ethiopia. but i guess he was more of a club DJ than an actual musician, right?

  13. ladymisskirroyale

    Does Carla Bruni count? Or is she a “politician” who went in to music?

  14. mikeydread

    Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil did indeed go into politics. I shook his ministerial hand recently when he announced the shortlists for a book award that I was a judge on. But his time as a cabinet minister in the Labor (loosely speaking, Democrat) government has not been particularly happy. The government is up for re-election on 21 August and things are not looking good. Despite the fact that Australia largely escaped the GFC unscathed. Unemployment is around 5% now and things are on the up and up. But perhaps not for Garrett. If it does go pear-shaped I guess he at least has the old job to fall back on.

  15. Ted Nugent certainly throws his 2 cents in on a regular basis…and his next door neighbour was President, so there’s every chance he might run at some point.

    The only real diference between Ted & Dubbya is Ted writes his own stuff.

  16. hrrundivbakshi

    Ruben Blades ran for prez of Panama, and is now its Minister of Tourism. Dude has a law degree from Harvard!

  17. BigSteve

    That reminds me that until recently Gilberto Gil was Brazil’s Minister of Culture.

  18. BigSteve

    Jimmie Davis, was a noted singer of both sacred and popular songs who served two nonconsecutive terms as Governor of Louisiana (1944–1948 and 1960–1964). While looking this up I discovered that Davis did not actually write You Are My Sunshine, but rather bought it from a singer/songwriter named Paul Rice. Bummer.

  19. The Kingfish, Huey Long, wrote songs too. Maybe songwriting is a prerequisite to be Governor of Louisiana. Still waiting for Bobby Jindal’s solo album. I’m predicting it will have a “boy band” type sound.

  20. The Iceman, Jerry Butler, is a long-time Chicago Alderman

  21. Kris Novoselic runs a music related lobbying group and I think he was in the Washington State govt.

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