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Voices: I wrote the Nikki Haley campaign song being trashed all over the internet. How embarrassing

Tim Draper, Nikki Haley and Larry Dvoskin (Larry Dvoskin)
Tim Draper, Nikki Haley and Larry Dvoskin (Larry Dvoskin)

As a white, middle-aged, gay New York musician, my voting record is very liberal. The only time I’ve ever voted for a Republican candidate was for New York City mayor Rudi Giuliani. We have all seen how that turned out.

So, when legendary investor Tim Draper asked me to write a song to his lyrics in support of Republican Nikki Haley’s presidential run, I hesitated. Tim, a libertarian iconoclast in the field of finance, was one of the first investors in Hotmail, Twitch, Skype, Coinbase, and even Tesla before Elon Musk. He helped launch companies that are now worth over ten billion dollars. In other words, he has a good track record of knowing what he’s talking about.

As we all know, Nikki Haley is a fighter and she didn’t fold to Trump like all the other candidates. People who have directly opposed Trump for any reason run a great political risk.

I didn’t know much about Nikki Haley when the request came through — just that she was the former US Ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, and her husband is a major in the National Guard. But I felt strongly that it was good for someone to stand up to Trump, especially a female candidate of color. I also have my own reservations, like many voters from both political parties, about re-electing older past presidents like Biden and Trump. We need younger leaders and a fresh start to bridge the divides in this country.

So I relented and co-wrote and produced the song “We Need You Nikki.” It is a solid, catchy song, but I only had a day to finish it so perhaps not my most brilliant creation. I figured none of my blue friends had to know about my red gig anyway.

Little did I know that within days of finishing it, the song would get trashed on The Late-Night Show with Stephen Colbert. How did Colbert’s show get hold of the song? It wasn’t even finished. I was told that Draper emailed the unfinished version of the song to some friends and associates, letting everyone know it was still very much the working version — and it seemed like someone had leaked it.

Google first pinged me when my name was mentioned in a Daily Kos article titled “Someone wrote a song about Nikki Haley and it is bad. Very bad!” To my embarrassment, the writer went on to say that he listened to it himself so his readers would be spared the pain.

In my lifelong career as a respected songwriter and multi-million selling producer, I’ve worked with legendary music icons like Sammy Hagar, Bad Company, David Bowie and Al Jardine, one of three living co-founders of The Beach Boys. I’ve worked hard all my life to not chase trends, but to write heartfelt music from a place of emotional authenticity. Growing up in Northern New Jersey to parents who were public school teachers, I understand the pain of the middle class. People are hurting. They are scared, on both sides of the political divide.

In his opening monologue, Colbert compared “We Need You Nikki” to “Mickey,” the 80’s pop hit by Toni Basil. You can’t copyright a beat unless it’s an actual sample of the original recording. The finished version of “We Need You Nikki” has no similarity beside the rhyming names. Colbert then played an edited version of Queen at Live Aid doing “We Will Rock You” but inserted Nikki Haley’s name, as if Freddie Mercury was singing about her. That part was, at least, somewhat flattering.

Colbert also posted a photo with the names “Tim Draper” and “Larry Dvoskin” on the screen for quite a hefty chunk of airtime while lambasting the song. I am the only Larry Dvoskin on the internet, so that was quite an embarrassing shock.

Not long afterwards, a music nerd with 1.7 million followers on YouTube dedicated an entire episode of his podcast to “We Need You Nikki”, declaring it the worst song of 2024 — even though it’s only February! Yikes!

Since Colbert already outed me for my right-wing gig, on February 6th I performed the song with Draper at a private fundraiser for Haley. Meeting her for the first time, I admit that I found her to be warm, kind, smart, well-informed, and so much better than Trump.

While I disagree with her on many issues such as abortion, I fear that unless we engage in civil debate, we’ll never heal this divided country. The safety, security, and prosperity of our future depends on people putting aside our differences. Thanks to Colbert and YouTube, there may possibly be only one thing both Democrats and Republicans agree on in 2024: the Nikki Haley anthem will not be the breakout hit we hoped for.

Larry Dvoskin is a multi-platinum HIT songwriter, producer who has worked with Al Jardine of The Beach Boys, Sammy Hagar, Bad Company and others. He is writing a forthcoming rock ‘n’ roll memoir and has been an adjunct professor of songwriting at New York University School of professional studies