HUDSON, Wisconsin (CNN) - A presidential campaign stop can sometimes feel like a rock concert. For the John McCain road show this week, they've sounded a little more like an easy listening station.
Barack Obama usually bounds onto stages to the jangly guitar riffs and feel-good lyrics of U2’s “City of Blinding of Lights.” For Hillary Clinton, speakers in high schools gyms from Ohio to Texas to Pennsylvania boomed with upbeat tracks from Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Dolly Parton that emphasized her working class pitch.
But traveling through the Midwest this week, McCain’s advance staff has apparently been sampling a slightly more low-key soundtrack, comprised of songs you might not find browsing through the “most popular” sections of iTunes or MySpace.
For instance, on Wednesday in southern Ohio, the house music was a steady repetition of muzak, creating a quiet, almost drowsy atmosphere for the voters gathered at Portsmouth High School.
At a town hall the next day in Michigan, the audience again waited patiently for the senator, but this time a soundtrack of smooth jazz wafted out of the speakers and onto the factory floor at Bayloff Stamped Products.
On Friday, at a town hall with women voters, came something a bit more lively: a barbershop quintent that sang old-timey love songs and covered a sentimental ballad by the classical singer Josh Groban.
In an election in which Obama brushes his shoulders off in an homage to Jay-Z, the appearance of five middle-aged crooners huddled around a microphone provided yet another striking, if superficial, demonstration of the generational divide in this presidential race.
Case in point: One of the quintet’s final performances before the candidate appeared was a song called “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” penned by the Tennessee songwriter Beth Slater Whitson in 1910, back when William Howard Taft occupied the White House.
Despite the mostly mellow tones emerging from McCain’s events this week, there were still a handful of up-tempo moments. In fact, the campaign brought things forward somewhat after today’s town hall, blasting a few Reagan-era pop hits like Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and Van Halen’s “Right Now” as McCain shook hands with audience members.