ANNAPOLIS — With a song in her heart and Ross Perot on her mind, a Pasadena volunteer with the Maryland Reform Party has written two dozen Reform Party hymns sung to familiar melodies.
Linda Grant De Pauw’s creation, “Rhythm of Reform — Song Lyrics for Reform Party Volunteers,” will debut at the first Maryland Reform Party convention in Calverton this Sunday.
The songs are meant to be morale boosters and motivators, she said.
“We have to feel confident and dedicated in order to be effective,” De Pauw said of the Maryland party, formed this August and based in Annapolis.
De Pauw, 56, wrote lyrics to tunes such as Row, Row, Row Your Boat:
“Go, go, go, Perot/Take us all the way/Every vote counts when it’s cast from the heart/Don’t throw it away.”
“When parties tried to keep debates/From being free and open/We had Perot participate/The people thus have spoken.”
And the Battle Hymn of the Republic:
“We are proud to own the party that is backing Ross Perot/He’s a leader who will work for us the way we want to go/He can work with Congress better than the parties we now know/Reform is what we need.”
For those De Pauw calls “vocally challenged, people with no sense of music at all,” she included a war chant that calls for hand clapping, finger snapping and rattling of keys.
Although she occasionally sings in her church choir, De Pauw hasn’t written lyrics before this. To her surprise, she was able to produce songs in a short time.
“I suddenly realized that if I had a melody in my head and thought about the Reform Party, I could write them very quickly,” she said.
Bill Strauss, director and co-writer of the Capitol Steps, a musical group that writes parodies of prominent politicians using Top 40 hits, said that adding political lyrics to popular songs dates back at least to colonial times and through the War of 1812.
Perhaps the best-known American example occurred when Francis Scott Key’s poem was set to the melody of an English drinking song, resulting in the Star Spangled Banner, Strauss said.
Parodies peaked during the 1840 presidential elections between the Whigs and the Democrats, and have resurfaced during the 1980s and 1990s with help from groups like his, Strauss said.
Joan Vinson, Maryland and Washington, D.C., director of Perot ’96, said De Pauw’s songs remind her of those sung during World War II.
“Those were the songs we went to war with, and that’s what we’re doing now,” Vinson said. “This is the most significant election held during this century. These songs will have a significant message for everybody.”
De Pauw, a professor of American history at the George Washington University, joined Perot’s 1992 campaign when she lived in Virginia and hadn’t voted in 10 years.
“I decided politics was not a spectator sport,” De Pauw said.
“I cast my first vote in 1964 for LBJ, but in the years after that I was very disgusted by Watergate and more and more disgusted by the circus atmosphere around conventions. I didn’t want to be sucked into the system with Tweedledum and Tweedledee and neither was a person of the highest quality,” she said. To her, Perot represented a chance to “clean up corruption and break the gridlock. I liked the idea that these problems could be solved and my participation could make a difference,” she said. -30-