President-elect Joe Biden gave his victory speech on Nov. 7, 2020 in Delaware, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, according to The New York Times. Biden’s speech — including his body language — conveyed an air of both hope and gravity, as he reiterated his promises to the American people during a year that’s brought great struggle and strife. The evening itself, however, brought a flood of cheers, car horns, and some epic songs to pump up the crowds.
In fact, Biden ran out to Bruce Springsteen’s song “We Take Care Of Our Own,” which was a curious choice for some, since it’s one of Springsteen’s lesser-known tunes, but a perfect choice when you discover the real meaning behind the song. The whole event surrounding Biden’s victory speech was very musical, as Biden even quoted a hymn during his address. In fact, all of the songs chosen for the evening were deeply meaningful. During the fireworks display, Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” played and, according to NME, the song was a favorite of Biden’s late son, Beau Biden. (Hello, tears.)
The epic tunes didn’t stop there and, among the list, Biden’s campaign played the late Tom Petty’s classic, “I Won’t Back Down.” In response, Petty’s family reacted to the song being played during Biden’s acceptance speech.
Why Tom Petty was the perfect fit for Joe Biden's historic night
Tom Petty’s family jumped on Twitter after hearing that Joe Biden used the rocker’s tune “I Won’t Back Down” during his victory speech on Nov. 7, 2020 — and they absolutely loved it. Using Petty’s Twitter account, they wrote on the same day: “We were all so touched to see Tom included on such an important night in America. Congratulations @joebiden and @kamalaharris.” They also added a short video clip of Petty singing the iconic song.
Petty passed away in October 2017 after suffering cardiac arrest, according to People. He was 66 when he died. Throughout his life, Petty was a political activist and used his platform to speak out on subjects close to his heart. In fact, Petty openly addressed the controversy created by the Confederate flag being used in his shows in the ’80s. According to CNN, in 1985, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their album Southern Accents, and the Confederate flag became a part of the tour. However, Petty soon saw the problem with this and, one day, someone threw a Confederate flag on stage.
Petty stopped the show and said to the crowd: “Look, this was to illustrate a character. This is not who we are. Having gone through this, I would prefer it if no one would ever bring a Confederate flag to our shows again because this isn’t who we are,” per CNN. It’s clear that Petty was not afraid to speak about his own political evolution and education. In fact, Petty himself called out many politicians who tried to use his songs.
Tom Petty had a history of speaking out about politics
While Tom Petty’s family reacted in favor of Joe Biden’s use of the iconic song “I Won’t Back Down,” other politicians have tried to use his tunes and have been shut down. Donald Trump used the exact same song at a rally in Tulsa, Okla. in June 2020 and the Petty family jumped on Twitter to say that “Trump was in no ways authorized to use this song.” The family added that they sent an official cease and desist notice to the Trump campaign.
That wasn’t all, though. In July 2017, when Trump banned transgender people from serving in the United States military, per CNN, Petty responded by playing “American Girl” that same night with photos of the late transgender actress Alexis Arquette on the screen behind him, along with other diverse women. Petty also called out former Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and former President George W. Bush for using his songs, according to CNN. It’s clear Petty and his family are dialed in politically and are not afraid to call out politicians who don’t align with the singer’s personal stance. So it makes it that much more remarkable to see the Petty family’s positive reaction to Biden’s use of the song. So what did the rest of Twitter think?
Twitter approved of Joe Biden's song choice
It seemed like Twitter sided with Tom Petty’s family when it came to backing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s use of “I Won’t Back Down” during their victory speeches. When one Twitter user told people to leave Petty out of politics, several others quickly pointed to the late musician’s clear history of censoring the Republican party’s use of his songs. Petty famously said he got “the chills” when former President Barack Obama used the same song at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, according to Rolling Stone.
As such, one Twitter user said of Petty: “He was happy when they played it for Obama during the 2012 DNC. It likely would’ve been an honor to him.” Another person tweeted that the song choice was a great fit for Biden’s big night: “I thought Tom’s song was perfect for the occasion!” It’s clear that the Petty family and the Twitterverse approve of the famous song being put to celebratory use for President-elect Joe Biden.
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