Up until election day, artists like R.E.M., Death Cab For Cutie, Aimee Mann, and My Morning Jacket’ Jim James will be rolling out anti-Donald Trump tunes, recorded and distributed specifically for a new project, 30 Days, 30 Songs, which aims to “motivate voters to stand against bigotry, sexism, hatred and ignorance,” McSweeney’s founder and noted author Dave Eggers, who produced the playlist with owner of Zeitgeist Artist Management Jordan Kurland, said when announcing the project.
Eggers and Kurland worked on the project together as a follow-up to 90 Days, 90 Reasons, their 2012 get out the vote initiative, which featured essays from creatives like Roxane Gay and Jesse Eisenberg. Eggers came up with this year’s idea after attending a Trump rally in Sacramento, California this June.
“[I] was surprised to hear Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’ played while Trump’s plane taxied toward the rally,” he tells EW in an email. “It was hilarious and perverse, and had a very emasculating effect on the man who stepped out of the plane. So it made me think that the right song had the power to puncture the unholy orb of pressurized hatred that is Trump. That’s when we started talking about it. But the real momentum happened in September.”
After that, they reached out to artists they knew, had worked with in the past, and “made a comment in the press or seemed like they would be sympathetic,” Kurland says. “It started with people who we knew were passionate about keeping Trump out of office or getting Hillary in office.” Eggers says, “About half the people we emailed wrote a song, so the ratio’s been astounding so far.”
They left a few slots open, though, and Kurland says since launching the project on Oct. 10, a handful of artist have reached out, hoping to contribute a song and “help create momentum,” as Kurland says. “There’s so much at stake here. What type of society do we want to live in? There’s really only one choice for this election.”
Death Cab For Cutie agree, according to “Million Dollar Loan,” which debuted as the 30 Days, 30 Songs’ first release and slams Trump for comments he made at a Town Hall in New Hampshire, when he told Matt Lauer, “It has not been easy for me. I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came into Manhattan and I had to pay him back, and I had to pay him back with interest.”
“I think a new song has a powerful effect,” Eggers says. “The first three songs alone on 30 Days, 30 Songs are so succinctly devastating and catchy that they might have the power to move the needle a bit. Or at least provide the soundtrack to voters’ registering and voting against oppression and bigotry. You can whistle Bhi Bhiman’s deadly new song while casting your ballot.”
And artists were receptive to 30 Days, 30 Songs’ message. “It started with Jim James,” Eggers says, “I asked if he’d write something about Trump, and he wrote back, ‘Word up. Yes, let’s write an anti-Trump song!!!! Please, for the love of god, something has got to be done!!!’”