A tweet about Jimmy Buffett on Tuesday morphed into an ongoing online musical tribute for Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath). The former gubernatorial candidate was injured this week when his son Austin, 24, apparently stabbed Deeds before shooting himself in the Deeds home in Bath County.
Candace Bryan Abbey, author of that Buffett tweet and the wife of Deeds’s 2009 campaign manager, said she remembered Deeds’s passion for music and thought that the right songs might offer some measure of comfort to the Deeds family. This prompted her to tweet the hashtag ‘#whoareyoulisteningto’ to her followers.
Ben Tribbett, the Virginia political blogger of Not Larry Sabato, answered Abbey’s music call-out and trimmed the tag to #CreighTunes. The subsequent retweets gave way to an outpouring of hundreds of song recommendations throughout the week. Tribbett and Abbey said they intend for list of songs to be seen by Deeds, as he recuperates from the injuries.
Deeds’s own Twitter stream is dotted with mentions of his music preferences. He frequently lists artists such as Merle Haggard, John Coltrane, Drive-By Truckers and Led Zeppelin, alongside his work-related updates. Style Blog recently spoke to Abbey and Tribbett about how the #CreighTunes tag helped compile an even more diverse music catalog for Deeds.
Q: Why did you choose to use Twitter and music as a means to lift Deeds’s spirits?
Abbey: When the [gubernatorial] campaign was trying to get Creigh on Twitter in 2009, all he wanted to tweet about was music. I went back to Twitter because that’s where it all started. A lot of people are now tweeting songs that Creigh introduced them to through his tweets. I think it’s a fitting tribute. A friend reminded me on social media yesterday that when Creigh and his family start looking at their Twitter and Facebook pages again, they’re going to see a lot of those headlines about what happened. That could be hard on them to be reminded every time they look at a social media page. So, I thought, ‘What can they see in social media that lets them know that people love them and support them through this extremely difficult time?’ I don’t know the Deeds’s family’s reaction to [#CreighTunes] yet. They’re staying very private right now and we respect that.
Q: The hashtag #CreighTunes gained a following in the last three days. Did you expect to see such a widespread response?
Tribbett: I thought it would be substantial in a limited community of people who were following this situation. But it turned into something a lot bigger. It was great to see so many people just wanting to send Creigh something to try to cheer him up. One of the things that was really cool about the #CreighTunes is that there were a lot of Republicans that were participating, as well. It wasn’t a partisan thing or people that just support him politically. These are people that know him and want to be supportive of him through what is a very difficult situation.
Q: What were some of the surprising or spot-on song suggestions? Who was responding?
Abbey: There were so many people who re-tweeted it. You start to see names like Paul Begala, Donna Brazile and Senator Tim Kaine.
Tribbett: The songs ranged from uplifting songs to songs that people knew that Creigh enjoyed. There were also songs that people wanted to recommend to him. Some people sent whole albums. I wasn’t really looking at the songs in analysis of it — I was hoping that by the volume [of responses], Creigh could see that people were really following and caring about him. As Candace had said originally, the situation is so horrible. You don’t want him to turn on social media and only see more negativity.
WP: You mentioned that #CreighTunes isn’t a partisan prompt. As someone closely connected to politics, did you or Candace mean for #CreighTunes to be a statement in anyway?
Tribbett: Creigh is not a statewide candidate anymore; his days at that level are over. But this is more about him personally than anything political. I’ve known Creigh for almost 15 years because I’ve been covering Virginia politics for a long time. Candace has known him close to as long, if not longer. I’m not a person who has always been on the same side as Creigh on everything politically, but I think he’s a man of incredible character and integrity. We wanted to be there for him and show him how many people out there really care about him. #CreighTunes is really just for him.