Remembering John Jay Hooker's Campaign Jingles


John Jay Hooker
  • John Jay Hooker
Fly on the Wall joins with other Tennesseans celebrating the life of progressive crusader, eccentric, and serial candidate John Jay Hooker this week. But instead of asking for a moment of silence, we say, "Turn it up!" Hooker first started running for public office in the mid-1960's, during the golden age of the campaign jingle. Although he is no longer with us, the music lives on.

Let's listen, shall we?

Hooker's most ambitious campaign jingle came out in 1966 when he ran for Governor against incumbent Buford Ellington. It doesn't really compare to "What About Frank," the Prisonaires extraordinary homage to Frank Clement, and that's unfortunate for a song that name checks Clement throughout. Of course, there aren't many jingle artists that can measure up to The Prisonaires, and "Watch John Jay," is a fun, fully realized storytelling song inspired by country artists like Johnny Cash and Jimmy Dean's 1961 hit "Big Bad John" in particular.

Sample lyric: 

Watch John Jay... Watch John Jay...

Now Buford and Frank got together one day and said we’d better watch this young John Jay.

He’s young and handsome and honest and clean and he might throw a wrench in our power machine

I don't remember that one. My family moved to Tennessee at the dawn of the 1970's, so the first big ear war between campaign jingles I recall started when Tammy Wynette sang variations on "Stand By Your Man" for Tom Wiseman. Wiseman sought the Democratic nomination in a contest with eventual winner and textbook disgrace, Ray Blanton. Blanton, a West Tennessee native, was raised on country sunshine. So, naturally, ol' "Pardon Me Ray," saw Wiseman's Wynette and raised him a Dottie West

This one's not a John Jay tune, but as long as we're talking Blanton...

In the 70's Hooker adopted a dumbed down but versatile jingle based on Ray Conniff's song "Happiness is."

"Vote for Hooker," and "Time for Hooker," are the same song with only a few lyrical changes.

Sample lyrics: 

Vote for Hooker!
Vote for Tennessee!
Vote for progress!
Vote for you and me!

Because he was a hip guy down with all the latest crazes Hooker also released a disco version of "Vote for Hooker." 
The song samples linked here are all collected from a history of political jingles in Tennessee archived at The Gore Center. It's a fun read with lots of links. 

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