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Top 12 Best Songs About Presidents

Political strife and new ideals have been the fodder for some stirring anthems. But, the best songs about presidents don’t leap out as the biggest hits ever. Still, there have been songs about political leaders and a fair number about the different presidents of the United States.

Some have been flattering tributes, and many more have been silly parodies and insulting ditties. But, the best songs about the US president strike a chord in listeners’ hearts and truly make statements about these great leaders.

Best Songs About Presidents

NOTE: If you’re looking for the best songs BY the Presidents of the United States of America, the band, that’s a whole different article!

Anti-President Songs

There have been hundreds or even thousands of songs directed against America’s presidents. Most have been silly, childish, and even ridiculous. Others have been used for mud-slinging as campaign songs. 

And others, like “Ye Tailor Man” by E.W. Foster in 1868, celebrated political defeats. In this case, Andrew Johnson being impeached.

Yet, some have made a real impact. These are the songs that came in the right place at the right time when the current president was riding low in popularity and was a target for scorn.

Top 12 Best Songs About Presidents

Eisenhower Blues by J.B. Lenoir

J.B. Lenoir’s song, “Eisenhower Blues,” is an early blues track from the 1950s Mississippi Blues man. This isn’t a scathing satire of the president. It’s not even a tremendous critique. Yet, at the time, it was truly bold and controversial to publish an anti-presidential song like this. 

Furthermore, his label, Parrto Records, forced him to re-title and re-record it as the “Tax Paying Blues.” It was, after all, a simple song about being down in the dumps because of having to pay too much in taxes. If that’s not a true American song, I don’t know what is.

Bonzo Goes to Bitburg by The Ramones

Punk bands are known both for getting political and calling a spade a spade. That’s what The Ramones did with the song “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg.” 

Hail to The Chimp

The ‘Bonzo’ in the title is Bonzo the Chimp, who starred with Ronald Regan in the 1951 film “Bedtime with Bonzo.” But, it also became an insulting name for Regan during his presidency.

This song is about an incident in 1985 when President Regan laid a wreath at a cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany. This was controversial as members of the brutal Waffen-SS were buried there. 

This serious, political track was also different for The Ramones. The song was only released as a single in the UK in 1985. Although, it naturally made its way across the pond quickly and became a college radio favorite.

I Shot The Devil by Suicidal Tendencies

Things took a harder turn with Suicidal Tendencies’ “I Shot the Devil.” This hardcore punk song starts with the line “I shot Regan,” which was the original title of the song. There’s a rumor that the FBI made the band change the title of this track from their 1983 self-titled album. But it hardly matters. 

This is a serious song with a brutal message “Rot in heaven/You’re too bad for hell.” It doesn’t get into a detailed critique of Regan’s domestic or foreign policy. But, it is a well known song with a strong anti-president message.

Re-Ron by Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron’s 1984 “Re-Ron” was just one of many popular anti-Regan songs that come out during his presidency. This track was specifically criticizing Regan’s re-election (the re-Ron).

It goes into some detail about Regan’s foreign policy, war-mongering, raising taxes, domestic issues like discrimination, and more. Despite the funky 80s beat and almost rap-style, this is a pretty serious political song.

Funky President (People It’s Bad) by James Brown

If we’re going to talk about danceable political songs, we need to talk about James Brown and his “Funky President (People It’s Bad).” This track was dropped as a single in 1974 when Gerald Ford was in the White House.

Although it doesn’t specifically name any one president, it does level specific criticisms at the Oval Office like, “There ain’t no funky job to be found/Tax keeps going up.” 

But, can you still get down to this track? Well, this is one of the most sampled songs ever, from NWA to the Beastie Boys, and from De La Soul to Childish Gambino, and many more.

Pro-President Songs

While there are probably more anti- than pro-president songs out there, most of the negative ones are silly, crass, or just flagrantly angry. The positive songs can be more interesting. 

While some might be straight-up propaganda, many tell the stories of incidents or the lives of leaders who aspired to greatness. That said, here are some of the best songs about presidents that offer a positive spin.

Young Abe Lincoln (Make a Tall, Tall Man) by Johnny Horton

Johnny Horton was a honky-tonk man and country picker and grinner who wrote many songs about Americana. His “Young Abe Lincoln (Make a Tall, Tall, Man)” was a twangy look at the life of Abraham Lincoln, from a poor upbringing to his celebrated presidency. 

This 2-minute song is a pretty quick review of that great man’s life. But it was catchy and made for a pretty good hit.

Abe Lincoln by Bishop Allen

Brooklyn-based indie rock darlings Bishop Allen put out “Abe Lincoln” on their EP Collection Vol. 2 in 2007. This is little tune is a shout-out and a tribute to Abraham Lincoln and other great world leaders who have been killed, including JFK as well. 

It’s endearing, and they suggest all these great people are up in heaven. However, the final stanza might ruffle a few feathers.

“Ronald Reagan, why oh why?/How do you manage to slide on by?”

Abraham Lincoln by Clutch

Maryland rock band, Clutch, put out their own take on the great emancipator’s death in their song “Abraham Lincoln” on their 2009 Strange Cousins From The West album. 

This hard-edged song starts with a period-appropriate field drum beat before getting heavier to match the subject matter. It’s an angry and mournful song about the famous assassination. It carries a forceful tone and strong feelings of the American public, both then and now.

James K. Polk by They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants may be one of the weirdest, quirkiest songwriting duos of all time. These creative multi-instrumentalists are known for writing strange-sounding songs and also taking on some of the most unusual subjects in their lyrics. 

So, it’s no surprise that when they chose to honor a president, they chose one of the lesser-known leaders. And that was the 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk.

This song is quite historically accurate and even contains all 12 of Polk’s campaign slogans. This strange and funny-sounding surf-rockish song extolls the virtues and achievements of Polk accurately. Almost like a high school essay.

Dallas 1 PM by Saxon

If you don’ know what happened just before 1 p.m. in Dallas, Texas, on November 22nd, 1963, here are three letters that might help – JFK. This tribute song by hard rock/metal band, Saxon, is unusual since they’re a British band. 

However, they captured that shocking and painful day in American history. Saxon delivers a hard-edged, heavy, and screeching interpretation of the incident, which somehow fits. It’s also interspersed with real audio from live newscasts on that fateful day to make the feeling even more intense.

Love of Richard Nixon by Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers came out with quite a strange and surprising song in “The Love of Richard Nixon.”

Not only did they release this song some 30 years after Nixon’s presidency, but it was also a supportive, understanding song for a president that was discredited and who ended up largely disliked.

According to the band, Nixon was set up to fail, taking over a tough presidency not long after the beloved JFK’s assassination. And, as they point out, he was pretty much left out to dry once the Watergate scandal came to light. What about what he did with China, and the War on Cancer?

Ronnie, Talk to Russia by Prince

Prince never hid his Republican leanings. But, in “Ronnie, Talk to Russia,” he came right out and urged then President Ronald Regan to talk to Russia and find a solution to the Cold War.

This track came out on 1981’s Controversy, which showed Prince at his peak of funk and playfulness. So, perhaps this peppy, noisy track was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. After all, he tells Regan, “Ronnie, if you’re dead before I get to meet ya/Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.”

Songs to Help You Remember the Presidents

There are also a lot of songs to help you remember all the presidents in the right order. Of course, the problem is that their names don’t normally rhyme. And, it’s also a whole lot of information to squeeze into a snappy tune. Furthermore, they are usually only found on YouTube.

For example…

Still, a few of these songs stand out and get used every year by students looking for a catchier way to memorize the country’s political leaders. “Presidents Rap – Washington to Obama” by Smart Songs is a pretty lame but surprisingly effective song for memorizing the presidents of the USA.

The Warner Bros. Animaniacs cartoon has a snappy song that’s more entertaining than helpful. It’s called “The Presidents Song” and only goes up to Clinton, so you know it’s a bit dated.

A popular pseudo-techno version creatively called “The Presidents Song #46” is the most recent version and goes up to Biden. This song is set to the instantly recognizable tune of “America the Beautiful” to make it quick and easy to learn. But, be warned – it’s almost impossible to unlearn.

Looking For More Interesting Songs?

We have you covered. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About Romeo and Juliet, the Best Songs About Brothers, the Best Songs About Cars, the Best Songs About Monsters, the Best Songs About Heroes, and the Best Songs about Friday for more great song selections.

Of course, you need to hear those tunes. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Party Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, the Best Waterproof Speakers, the Best Smart Speakers, and the Best Sonos Speakers you can buy in 2022.

Best Songs About Presidents – Final Thoughts

So, we’ve seen there are songs in support of the president, songs in opposition, and songs to help you memorize this ever-expanding list. Some are explicitly political, while others are more emotional. And they range across all styles of music too.

But, it should be no surprise that there are so many songs about presidents. After all, this is the biggest job in the land, and there are bound to be both fans and haters no matter who sits in the Oval Office.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Jennifer Bell

Jennifer is a freelance writer from Montana. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and English, as well as an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Games and Simulation Design.

Her passions include guitar, bass, ukulele, and piano, as well as a range of classical instruments she has been playing since at school. She also enjoys reading fantasy and sci-fi novels, yoga, eating well, and spending time with her two cats, Rocky and Jasper.

Jennifer enjoys writing articles on all types of musical instruments and is always extending her understanding and appreciation of music. She also writes science fiction and fantasy short stories for various websites and hopes to get her first book published in the very near future.

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