A South Florida musician on Sunday issued a stern musical warning to President Vladimir Putin of Russia singing, “Hey Mr. Putin, if you start shootin’, you know darn tootin’ we’ll start shootin’ too,” and has had his song translated into Russian and delivered to the Kremlin.
Dave Roppolo, a Pompano Beach-based musician on Sunday said it was time to “get tough” with Putin for his decision to invade Crimea in southern Ukraine and subsequently annex it. A tough stance the Obama administration “has failed to take,” said Roppolo.
“If all Congress and Obama are going to do is a song and dance routine with the Russians instead of taking some substantive punitive actions, I figured I’d deliver a song with a real message; an American message of strength and resolve,” Roppolo said.
Roppolo’s song, entitled “Hey Mr. Putin,” contains a warning directed at Putin not to go on an “annexation spree” of eastern Europe. The song lyrics speak to a unified America that will not tolerate another European land grab such as that carried out by the former Soviet Union.
“You’ve got to talk tough, sing tough and be willing to follow through on your promises,” Roppolo said. "President Obama needs to heed this lesson: Project strength and follow through."
Roppolo’s song has become an ad hoc anthem for millions of American bar patrons and other patriotic Americans. Political analysts have dubbed his efforts, ‘Song Diplomacy.’
“I’ll do whatever I can as a musician to help strengthen America,” said Roppolo. “The song has struck a chord with America.”
Roppolo enlisted the help of a Russian friend to translate "Hey Mr. Putin" into Russian and is hoping the song reaches its addressee, Vladimir Putin. The musician-turned-diplomat would like to see Putin reach out to the American people after hearing his song.
"The song is strong, but respectful," said Roppolo. "I hope it reaches its destination. You never know what good can come of it unless your try."
On Sunday patrons at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant where Roppolo was playing were treated to a rousing rendition of "Hey Mr. Putin." Hundreds of patrons joined in with Roppolo.
"I think the song is great," said an ebullient Todd Kennington, a bank teller from Davie. "Putin's trying to relive the 'glory' days of the Soviet Union. Obama has to draw a line and stick to it or Russia's gonna be a problem."
Following Roppolo's song the crowd broke out into an enthusiastic chant of, 'U.S.A. U.S.A!' Roppolo quickly capitalized on the audience's enthusiasm and sang another chorus of "Hey Mr. Putin."
"I've got nothing personal against Russia. It's Putin that really gets me," said Beverly Bounders, a waitress who works at a nearby restaurant and is a single mother of two young boys. "I want to see Obama put his foot down and really mean it. The future of my boys - and of every American child - depends on a strong America."
Roppolo, whose great uncle was the famed New Orleans jazz musician, Leon Roppolo, is an accomplished musician in his own right with more than three decades of musical credits spanning concerts, film scores and philharmonic appearances. But while comfortable playing almost any instrument, his new found political fame is something with which he's not so comfortable.
"I'm not really a political creature," said a contemplative Roppolo. "Sometimes, though, you've got to take a stand. This Putin, Obama and Russia tripartite needs resolution. The security of our nation is at stake. So I'm doing what I can."
Fortunately for Roppolo the primary players in the current crisis in Crimea have names that lend themselves to a lyrically pleasing melody.
"The names 'Putin' and 'Obama' I can work with musically," Roppolo said. "But I'd be hard pressed to come up with lyrics that can incorporate a steady diet of, 'Ukraine. Ukraine. Ukraine. Ukraine.'"
Hopefully for Roppolo, the next crisis won't be in Uzbekistan.