The Silencing

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, PM, FMLR

Bro. Birch Bayh
In the 1962 Indiana Senatorial campaign, young Democratic upstart Birch Bayh went up against the venerable Republican incumbent Homer E. Capehart, in a relatively conservative state where young Bayh's chances were not seen as very good.  The two candidates, Masonic Brothers, went after each other in a brutal campaign that was too close to predict right down to the bitter end. 

Toward the end of the race, Bayh's campaign staff came up with new words to a little ditty from a 1960 Broadway show starring Lucille Ball, Wildcat.  The song was Hey, Look Me Over.

It's a song so catchy, you can almost hear the tune as you read the lyrics:

Hey look me over, lend me an ear,
Fresh out of clover, mortgaged up to here...

Bayh's staff modified the lyrics to tout his campaign and for the last few weeks of the race, inundated Hoosier voters with it.  Or, as Time Magazine put it, "In the last two weeks of the campaign, Hoosiers heard little else on radio and television stations."  After Bayh's song blitz, he had practically every Hoosier, Republican and Democrat humming the tune or singing:

Hey, look him over, he's your kind of guy,
His first name is Birch, his last name is Bayh,
Candidate for Senator for the Hoosier state,
For Indiana he'll do more than anyone has done before,
Indiana's own Birch Bayh...

Homer Capehart
And so on.  According to one Hoosier who was there to hear it, "You simply could not get the song out of your head, and could not turn on a radio or TV without hearing it."

There were a lot of factors that led to Birch Bayh winning by the slimmest of margins in 1962... Bayh's charisma, President Kennedy's support, Capehart coming across like a fuddy duddy and more, but there are analysts who give that song most of the credit.  Time reported, "After the Indiana populace heard [the song] for the 22,356th time in the autumn of 1962, Birch Bayh went to Washington."

Brother Birch Bayh went on to a stellar career in the US Senate and was briefly, in 1976, considered a front-runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

When the 1968 Senatorial campaign rolled around, Bayh ran for re-election and Hoosiers braced their ears to hear that successful campaign song over and over.  But Bayh's campaign jingle, which had proven so successful, was never heard again.

Why? With the song still in copyright the Republicans, badly burned by it six years earlier, bought the rights to the tune and quietly put it on the shelf.  Despite having his theme song silenced Brother Bayh won the election and eventually served 18 years in the US Senate.


Steve Harrison, 32° KCCH, is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri.  He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Senior Warden.  He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor.

1 comment:

  1. And they're still trying to silence the truth! Some things never change.


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