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1  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / 1992 WWW Tour Article on: December 16, 2017, 11:53:04 am
Mellower John Mellencamp says he's not mad anymore
Cox News Service Jan 24, 1992

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- From a distance, John Mellencamp appears to be the nasty

young punk you don't want to meet in a dark alley. Curly dark hair tumbles down

to the gold ring in his left ear. His compact body is tightly encased in jeans,

T-shirt and a short leather jacket with a heavy silver buckle dangling at the

waist. His fresh-faced grin is cocksure, his walk a swagger.

It's an image that has served him well during a 16-year career as a

blue-collar rock 'n' roller. But it only begins to define the man who is on his

first concert tour since 1987.

"I've come out of my cocoon after three and a half years," Mellencamp says,

sitting in a spartan dressing room before a weekend rehearsal at the Savannah

Civic Center. "But I don't have anything to prove to anybody."

Indeed, Mellencamp, who laughs easily and seldom breaks eye contact while

speaking, has found there's much more to life than rock 'n' roll. Now 40 and a

grandfather -- thanks to Michelle Peach, his 20-year-old daughter from his

first marriage who has a daughter of her own -- he has become a serious oil

painter whose works command five-figure prices. He's also a fledgling

actor-director whose first film, "Falling From Grace," is scheduled for release

next month.

A bit of a nomad, he divides his time between homes in Bloomington, Ind.,

and Hilton Head, S.C., where his second ex-wife lives with their two daughters,

Teddi Jo, 10, and Justice, 6.

Perhaps most noticeable, Mellencamp is no longer an angry young man, despite

a continuing concern for everyday people and a cynical view of politics.

"I'm not mad anymore," he says, pausing a beat. "Just disgusted."

Slight though it may be, the Mellencamp mellowing is perhaps best

appreciated by longtime members of his band. "I think a lot of it is due to him

finding another creative medium, which is painting," says guitarist Mike

Wanchic, who has seen Mellencamp explode onstage and off during his 14 years

with the group.

"John had always concentrated on music at the exclusion of everything else.

The art gets him away from that," Wanchic says. "It's also been good for him to

come to terms with his ex-wife and move to Hilton Head so he can be close to

his children. He's really expanded his life."

With all these new interests, the question remains, why undertake another

tour of arenas?

"It's the work ethic," he says, grinning, sipping decaffeinated coffee and

chain-smoking Marlboros. "What good's a cabinetmaker who won't make cabinets?"

Current plans call for Mellencamp and his eight-person band to promote his

new album (his 11th), "Whenever We Wanted," with about 150 concerts in the

United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.

"(The record company and management) are talking about me being on the road

for a year and a half and I'm talking about being on the road just long enough

to see how it goes," he says.

"If I had my druthers, I'd go back and make another record," he adds. "But

now that all the pieces for touring are together, it's too involved to stop."

Only the logistics are complex. Mellencamp's show features no lasers, no

elaborate pyrotechnics, no video screens. He'll perform on a simple

reddish-brown stage with a backdrop consisting of three blowups of paintings by

the German expressionist Max Beckmann.

Strong ticket sales in a few major markets have resulted in some multiple

dates. But in Atlanta this week, sales for the only concert were low until

upper-level seats were reduced from $22.50 to $12.96. "This is not about

money," he says, taking note of the economy. "If I was going to sit around and

wait for the right time to make money, I'd never tour."

Mellencamp aims to give fans what they want, and if that means calling up

old hits such as "Hurts So Good" and "Jack And Diane" night after night, he'll do it.

"I understand what fans expect," he says. "You don't have to play the

hits, but you do have to respect what people expect."

Except in the movies, that is. Although Mellencamp plays a country singer in

"Falling From Grace," which co-stars Mariel Hemingway and was written by

novelist Larry McMurtry, he doesn't sing onscreen. In fact, his only

contribution to the soundtrack, also set for release in February,, is "Sweet

Suzanne," a song recorded with a band called the Buzzin' Cousins, which

includes Mellencamp, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely, John Prine and James McMurtry (the

author's son).

"We'll never make an album or tour," Mellencamp says. "The soundtrack was

kind of an afterthought."

"Falling From Grace" may also be a one-time venture. "I learned from making

that movie that I really don't want an acting career," he says. "There were

days I had a lot of fun, but there were a lot of days I just said, `What the

(expletive) am I doing here? Why am I doing this?' "


Painting, it seems, comes easier, even more so than songwriting. "It took me

a few albums before I knew what I wanted to do with songs," Mellencamp says,

wincing when he recalls his 1976 debut album, "Chestnut Street Incident," and

its critical trashing.

"The painting just seems to have evolved more rapidly than my songwriting

did," he says. His first efforts about three years ago were basically portraits

in the style of the Old Masters, but his current works are expressionist.

"His portrayals, in some cases, are rather stark, but he has a unique

palette and concept. He's obviously a serious student," says Bill Crume,

general manager of the Red Piano Bar Gallery at Hilton Head. "We had a

well-received, 40-piece exhibit of his works here."

Painting seems almost an obsession for Mellencamp. "I get up early -- about

7 a.m. -- and paint every day," he says. "Two hours is nothing. I like to work

at it for six to eight hours."

Concentrating on songwriting and painting has made it easier for him to deal

with life, particularly the aftermath of his second divorce three years ago.

"Just being able to direct my energy into a positive outcome is much better

than getting mad and tearing up stuff," he says. "Plus, I've got a nice

girlfriend who's been living with me for two and a half years and we've been

getting along great."

He gives a resigned shrug when asked about the possibility of a third

marriage. "I'm a no-good so-and-so when it comes to that. I ain't cut out for

it."

He has little use for today's image-conscious music industry.

"The music business is really dead as far as I'm concerned. Celebrity is the

art form that's desired right now. Look at M.C. Hammer -- and I'm not putting

him down because he's a nice guy -- but he's a P.T. Barnum type, a salesman,

and that's what it's all about. It's all dancers and big-budget videos.

"I don't care to be a part of that and if saying that makes me an old war

horse, then so be it," he says.

"One of the reasons I'm out here now doing these shows and interviews is to

say, `Look, I ain't like those people and I never have been and I never will

be.' So if you're going to judge me by their standards, just don't bother. I

don't need it."

http://www.nwitimes.com/uncategorized/mellower-john-mellencamp-says-he-s-not-mad-anymore-just/article_d04556c0-79e2-5d9d-a631-721a6af297d4.html
2  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Ask Mellencamp.com / Re: Miss missy on: October 29, 2017, 08:59:04 am
It’s about John’s ex-wife Elaine, who he affectionately called “Missy.”
3  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / All About John / Re: Comprehensive list of all non-album JM tracks on: October 14, 2017, 10:29:05 am
There’s many more:

Carolina Shag
Here Comes Angie
March of the Forgotten Seven
Did Hank Really Do It That Way (Waylon Jennings Tribute)
I Don’t Know Why I Love You (Stevie Wonder Tribute)
Wreck of the Old 97
Check it Out (LJ tour)
A Ride Back Home (Pete Seeger Tribute)
If I Had a Hammer (Pete Seeger Tribute)
Allentown (Billy Joel Tribute)
Two bonus songs on Sad Clowns and Hillbillies

Those spring to mind off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more.
4  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Tour Talk / Wisconsin State Fair Review on: August 06, 2017, 11:57:03 pm
Righteous Mellencamp rocked the State Fair
By Molly Snyder

John Mellencamp, the artist formerly known as Johnny Cougar, John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp, is definitely at home in the heartland. Tonight, he played for 100 minutes on the Main Stage at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Mellencamp, who is now 65 and still resides in Indiana, is on his "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies" tour, with Carlene Carter, through Sept. 3. The tour promotes his new album (with many contributions from Carter) of the same name that was released in April but, of course, is also a retrospective of his rock 'n' roll anthems.

"We're gonna do some songs you know, some songs you don't know, some songs you can sing along to and some songs you can dance to. We're gonna do all kinds of songs tonight," Mellencamp told the audience a few songs into the show.

Indeed, he – and his band of six – followed through with that promise. The crowd sang along with "Small Town," "Rain on the Scarecrow," "Crumbling Down," "Pink Houses" and "Cherry Bomb." There was even a little dancing at times (good job, often-sedentary Milwaukeeans) and offbeat-but-passionate maraca playing by a fervent fan in front of us.

An acoustic version of "Jack & Diane" was particularly appreciated by the crowd. He told us that he wrote the song in 1980 sitting in his room and listening to, then joining in, "some activity" in the next room.

"That 'activity' seemed a lot more interesting than anything going on in my room, and so by 2:30 in the morning, both activities were complete, including this song," he said. "I don't even know why I play this anymore. I guess it's because I know you folks wanna hear it."

Some fans were less enthused with new tune, "Easy Target," a political ballad that critiques income inequality in America and praises the Black Lives Matters movement. A few fans left after that song and others yelled out "you need a shot" and "this is a Liberal's song!"

Mellencamp and his band, dressed in black suits and white shirts, looked and sounded great. Mellencamp's raspy voice was every bit as powerful as it was on his studio albums. A bluesy, soulful, version of "Stones In My Passway" showcased the strength of his voice.

Since he entered the music scene in 1976, Mellencamp collected 22 Top 40 hits and was nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning one. He is also known for co-organizing the first Farm Aid benefit concert with Neil Young and Willie Nelson in Champaign, Illinois in 1985. As of 2017, Farm Aid concerts have raised over $50 million for struggling family farmers.

This was a bucket list show for me. Although more a fan of "alternative" music during the MTV days when Mellencamp first made his musical mark, so many of his songs are deeply engrained in my psyche and would definitely belong on the Generation X Soundtrack, if there ever was one.

Show opener Carlene Carter performed on numerous songs with Mellencamp. Carter, who is the daughter of the late June Carter Cash and the stepdaughter of the late Johnny Cash, told a variety of charming and heartfelt quips and stories in-between songs.

"My mama told me I couldn't have sex until I was married, and so I got married," she said. "A lot."

Carter was romantically linked to Howie Epstein, a Milwaukee native and longtime bassist for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers who died from a heroin overdose in 2003. "I will always have a special place in my heart for Milwaukee because of Howie," she said. "He's on tour with the angels and I'm on tour with y'all."

Setlist:

Lawless Times

John Cockers

Minutes to Memories

Small Town

Stones in My Passway

Pop Singer

Check It Out

Jack & Diane

Grandview (with Carlene Carter)

My Soul's Got Wings (with Carlene Carter)

Easy Target

Overture (Mellencamp's violin player accompanied by an accordionist)

Rain on the Scarecrow

Paper in Fire

Crumblin' Down

Authority Song (with Land of 1000 Dances interlude)

Pink Houses

Cherry Bomb

https://onmilwaukee.com/seasonal/festivals/articles/mellencamp-review-state-fair.html
5  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Tour Talk / Seattle Show Review and Photos on: June 12, 2017, 11:31:27 pm
John Mellencamp Opens Marymoor Concert Season
By Mocha Charlie
June 12, 2017

John Mellencamp is currently on an extensive US tour that runs through September, bringing along tour mates Carlene Carter and Emmylou Harris to open the shows. They stopped at Marymoor Park last week, opening up their summer concert series. After a morning filled with scattered showers, the rains subsided prior to the show, making for a pleasant night filled with music and dancing under rainbows engulfed by a cool summer breeze. 

Mellencamp has an extensive music career dating back to the age of fourteen. At the age of twenty five, his then management team had said that his given last name would be too hard to market, so he took the name John Cougar for his eponymous debut EP. He added his born name of Mellencamp to the mix in 1983, releasing his seventh studio album, Uh-Huh, and finally dropped “Cougar” altogether in the early nineties. By that time, fans were on board with his music, and regardless of the name he chose to market, his fan base was growing, and so was his career.

Playing roughly twenty hit songs from his catalogue, including a few from his recently released twenty-third studio album, “Sad Clowns & Hillbillies,” Mellencamp kept fans entertained behind his guitar and the mic. Carlene Carter joined him on stage for a few songs, including a duet of Pink Houses.” He told stories in between songs that brought shouts and laughs from within the crowd. “I know what I was doing… You guys don’t,” he joked, prior to performing a solo acoustic version of his most successful single, “Jack & Diane.” His long time friend and guitarist, Mike Wanchic, has been with him for over forty years, “There is no past, because the past is always with you,” quipped Mellencamp. He and Wanchic have an extensive past, and he said the only thing that’s really changed for them is they take plenty of naps because “you never hear of people dying in their naps.”  He has had his fair share of hit songs that still burn deep in the hearts of die-hard fans, and they continue to support his career, coming out by the thousands when he plays his live performances.

https://seattlemusicinsider.com/2017/06/12/john-mellencamp-opens-marymoor-concert-season/
6  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Ticket & Tour Questions / Re: Sad Clowns & Hillbillies Tour Ticket Questions on: June 07, 2017, 12:24:16 am
Does Lily and Madeline have their own opening act set or do they just accompany Carlene Carter during her opening set?

They just accompany Carlene and then join John for 5-6 songs. Read their insights on the tour here: http://www.indianapolismonthly.com/arts-culture/lily-madeleine-talk-touring-mellencamp/
7  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Ask Mellencamp.com / Re: Can't Find Sat Night Live Performance 4/10/82 on: May 15, 2017, 11:30:45 am
I tried to upload this myself a year or so ago and it was blocked immediately. That's why it isn't on YouTube. Let me see if I can get it on Vimeo.
8  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / All About John / Re: Sad Clowns album reminds me of.... on: May 03, 2017, 02:19:23 pm
Very astute. I made the exact same correlation.
9  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / All About John / Re: What Does "Grandview" Sound Like To You? on: May 03, 2017, 10:20:40 am
In late 1993, John went in the studio to record 6-8 new songs for a box set that was going to be titled "Nothing Like We Planned." At the time David Grissom had just left the band and John and Kenny Aronoff weren't seeing eye-to-eye on Kenny not being available for sessions because he was constantly doing work outside the band. John brought in Izzy Stradlin to temporarily replace Grissom and Stan Lynch, who had just left Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, to temporarily replace Kenny. Among the songs recorded in these 1993 sessions were "Miss Missy" and "Grandview."

John eventually scrapped the "Nothing Like We Planned" idea and began making "Dance Naked" in early 1994, so the songs recorded in these sessions remained on the shelf. Andy York was hired in January 1994 to replace Grissom permanently, and John and Kenny patched things up and Kenny returned to work on "Dance Naked" as well.

"Miss Missy" was used five years later for the 1998 self-titled album, and we are just now getting "Grandview," although Martina McBride wasn't a part of the song back then. Her involvement came later.

As for "All Night Talk Radio," John mentioned that song in an interview back in 1996. It was cut for "Mr. Happy Go Lucky" - hence Kenny and Toby Myers' involvement - but it wasn't used for that album and stayed unreleased for 21 years. John revisited the song for "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies," and he added a few new elements to it, like Carlene's voice, although it's clearly still John's 1996 vocal on the song. It's a fantastic tune, so we're lucky it has finally been released. See my separate post for full band and songwriting credits for all the songs on "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies."

http://forum.mellencamp.com/index.php?topic=4708.0
10  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Ask Mellencamp.com / Complete "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies" Songwriting and Band Credits on: May 03, 2017, 09:30:22 am
Mobile Blue

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Background Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Acoustic Guitar, Baritone Guitar, Mandolin: Andy York
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Accordion, Hammond B3: Troye Kinnett
Drums: Dane Clark
Upright Bass: John Gunnell
Author, Composer: Mickey Newbury
Music Publisher: Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music

Battle of Angels

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Background Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Drums, Percussion: Dane Clark
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Accordion, Hammond B3: Troye Kinnett
Mandolin: Mike Wanchic
Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocalist, Baritone Guitar, Upright Bass: Andy York
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing

Grandview

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Electric Guitar, Keyboards: Mike Wanchic
Electric Guitar: Izzy Stradlin
Acoustic Guitar: Andy York
Electric Bass: Toby Myers
Drums: Stan Lynch
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Hammond B3: Troye Kinnett
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Author, Composer: Bobby Clark
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing
Music Publisher: EMI Full Keel Music

Indigo Sunset

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Harp, Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Drums: Dane Clark
Upright Bass: John Gunnell
Mandolin: Mike Wanchic
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Accordion, Hammond B3, Harmonica, Organ: Troye Kinnett
Acoustic Guitar: Andy York
Author, Composer: Carlene Carter
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp

What Kind of Man Am I

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Background Vocalist: Mike Wanchic
Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocalist, Banjo: Andy York
Background Vocalist, Hammond B3, Piano: Troye Kinnett
Background Vocalist, Drums, Percussion: Dane Clark
Background Vocalist, Violin: Miriam Sturm
Background Vocalist: Lily Jurkiewicz
Background Vocalist: Madeleine Jurkiewicz
Background Vocalist, Upright Bass: John Gunnell
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Background Vocalist: Christie Brinkley
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing

All Night Talk Radio

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Background Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Drums: Dane Clark
Drums & Percussion: Kenny Aronoff
Electric Bass: Toby Myers
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Hammond B3, Harmonica: Troye Kinnett
Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocalist: Andy York
Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocalist, Mandolin: Mike Wanchic
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing

Sugar Hill Mountain

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Background Vocalist, Producer: John Mellencamp
Vocals: Carlene Carter
Drums & Percussion: Dane Clark
Upright Bass: John Gunnell
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Accordion, Keyboards: Troye Kinnett
Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocalist, Banjo: Andy York
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing

You Are Blind

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Background Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Drums: Dane Clark
Electric Bass: John Gunnell
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Hammond B3, Harmonica: Troye Kinnett
Acoustic Guitar: Mike Wanchic
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar: Andy York
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing

Damascus Road

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Background Vocalist, Producer: John Mellencamp
Vocals: Carlene Carter
Drums & Percussion: Dane Clark
Electric Bass: John Gunnell
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Hammond B3, Harmonica: Troye Kinnett
Acoustic Guitar, Baritone Guitar, Electric Guitar, Guitar: Andy York
Author, Composer: Carlene Carter

Early Bird Cafe

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Background Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Drums & Percussion: Dane Clark
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Hammond B3, Harmonica: Troye Kinnett
Electric Guitar, Mandolin: Mike Wanchic
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar: Andy York
Author, Composer: Lane Tietgen

Sad Clowns

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Drums: Dane Clark
Upright Bass: John Gunnell
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Organ: Troye Kinnett
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Steel Guitar: Andy York
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing

My Soul's Got Wings

Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Vocals, Producer: John Mellencamp
Acoustic Guitar, Vocalist, Background Vocalist: Carlene Carter
Background Vocalist, Clapping: Christie Brinkley
Background Vocalist, Drums: Dane Clark
Background Vocalist, Clapping, Upright Bass: John Gunnell
Background Vocalist, Clapping: Mike Wanchic
Background Vocalist, Clapping, Violin: Miriam Sturm
Background Vocalist, Clapping, Harmonica: Troye Kinnett
Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocalist, Clapping: Andy York
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Author, Composer: Woody Guthrie
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing
Music Publisher: The Richmond Organization

Easy Target

Producer: John Mellencamp
Engineer, Mixer: David Leonard
Engineer: Scott Davis
Piano: Troye Kinnett
Mandolin: Mike Wanchic
Violin: Miriam Sturm
Upright Bass: John Gunnell
Author, Composer: John Mellencamp
Music Publisher: Belmont Mall Publishing
11  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Ask Mellencamp.com / Re: Grandview/NPR Review on: May 03, 2017, 09:28:55 am
In late 1993, John went in the studio to record 6-8 new songs for a box set that was going to be titled "Nothing Like We Planned." At the time David Grissom had just left the band and John and Kenny Aronoff weren't seeing eye-to-eye on Kenny not being available for sessions because he was constantly doing work outside the band. John brought in Izzy Stradlin to temporarily replace Grissom and Stan Lynch, who had just left Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, to temporarily replace Kenny. Among the songs recorded in these 1993 sessions were "Miss Missy" and "Grandview."

John eventually scrapped the "Nothing Like We Planned" idea and began making "Dance Naked" in early 1994, so the songs recorded in these sessions remained on the shelf. Andy York was hired in January 1994 to replace Grissom permanently, and John and Kenny patched things up and Kenny returned to work on "Dance Naked" as well.

"Miss Missy" was used five years later for the 1998 self-titled album, and we are just now getting "Grandview," although Martina McBride wasn't a part of the song back then. Her involvement came later.

As for "All Night Talk Radio," John mentioned that song in an interview back in 1996. It was cut for "Mr. Happy Go Lucky" - hence Kenny and Toby Myers' involvement - but it wasn't used for that album and stayed unreleased for 21 years. John revisited the song for "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies," and he added a few new elements to it, like Carlene's voice, although it's clearly still John's 1996 vocal on the song. It's a fantastic tune, so we're lucky it has finally been released. See my separate post for full band and songwriting credits for all the songs on "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies."

http://forum.mellencamp.com/index.php?topic=4708.0
12  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Indy Star "Sad Clowns" Interview on: April 29, 2017, 10:44:25 am
Songs keep coming to John Mellencamp, whether he likes it or not

By David Lindquist

BELMONT, Ind. — John Mellencamp isn't the first musician to say he hears voices in his head.

Fortunately, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer claims his visitors don't bring fear or confusion. They bring songs.

One example is "Easy Target," a track released in advance of new album "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies." Mellencamp said the bleakly sarcastic song, which refers to minority groups and the impoverished as being "created equal, equally beneath me and you," presented itself when he was devoting time to his second artistic passion of painting portraits, landscapes and social commentary.

"I didn’t want to write that song," Mellencamp said during an interview at his Brown County recording studio. "I was busy painting.

'You need to stop what you’re doing and write this down.'

'No.'

'John, write the song down.'

'Oh, OK.'


"That’s it. I wasn’t even thinking about race or poor people. Nothing. So the song just kind of came."

"Sad Clowns & Hillbillies" isn't a 13-song document that arrived completely by cryptic transmissions. It's more of a bit-by-bit collection that's fit for a bride: something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Mellencamp said no specific concept guided the making of "Sad Clowns," but the album neatly checks off good-luck traditions associated with weddings.

Something old: “Grandview,” the current single from the album that arrives in stores today, is a sonic time traveler Mellencamp co-wrote with his cousin, Bobby Clark, in the 1990s. An early stab at recording the song featured Indiana native and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin and drummer Stan Lynch, formerly of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Mellencamp said the "Sad Clowns" version of "Grandview" includes some vocals he recorded in the '90s and some recorded this century. Stradlin's gritty, insistent riffs and Lynch's beats were salvaged for the final version, and country vocalist Martina McBride came on board to portray Mellencamp's foil in the song's home stretch. "It took a long time to build this song," Mellencamp said.

Something new: Similar to "Easy Target," the song "Sad Clowns" arrived as an intact composition, Mellencamp said. "I am available to whatever is sending me songs," he said. "I take them for what they are. I don’t try to change them. I don’t try to manipulate them. I think it happens because I’ve been doing this so long."

Something borrowed: Mellencamp said "Sad Clowns" features two songs he has played his "entire life." Country musician Mickey Newbury wrote and recorded "Mobile Blue" in 1971, and psychedelic rock band the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood recorded "Early Bird Cafe" in 1970. Neither song charted for the original artist. Mellencamp said he discovered "Early Bird Cafe" when he caught the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood as the opening act for Frank Zappa at Indianapolis music venue Middle Earth. "Great things come and surprise us sometimes," he said.

Something blue: "Indigo Sunset" is a song Mellencamp co-wrote with Carlene Carter, who has served as his opening act on recent tours. Carter, the daughter of June Carter Cash and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, has such a large role on "Sad Clowns" that the album is officially attributed to "John Mellencamp featuring Carlene Carter." Regarding the album's origin, he said: "We were standing backstage, and I said, ‘We should make a religious record together. You know, an old-time religious record. But I don’t want to do a bunch of old religious songs. Let’s write our own.’ She said, ‘OK.’ She started writing religious songs, and I didn’t. I just wrote whatever came to me."

Marriage doesn't seem to be in the immediate future for Mellencamp. After splitting from his third wife, model Elaine Irwin, at the end of 2010, the musician dated actress Meg Ryan from 2011 to 2014 and model Christie Brinkley from 2015 to 2016.

He wasn't a fan of tabloids reporting on his relationships.

"I don’t want to be in those things," he said. "I don’t get it. Who cares? I don’t even know why they’re interested."

Mellencamp spent all of March sequestered at his home art studio east of Bloomington.

"This is the first day I've been off my property in 35 days," he said on April 5, when he ventured to his music studio to arrange and rehearse a Merle Haggard song he performed a day later as part of an all-star tribute to the late country singer in Nashville, Tenn. "But I made maybe 17 paintings. I got up every morning and painted until dark and then went to bed. I didn’t talk to anybody. They’d bring my lunch up to me."

"Sad Clowns & Hillbillies" is Mellencamp's first album since 1991's "Whenever We Wanted" to feature one of his paintings as part of the cover art.

That album, which sent four singles into the Top 5 of Billboard magazine's mainstream rock chart, followed a decade of heavy rotation on MTV.

Videos for "Hurts So Good," "Jack & Diane," "Crumblin' Down," "Pink Houses," "Authority Song," "Lonely Ol' Night," "Small Town," "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," "Rain on the Scarecrow," "Cherry Bomb," "Paper in Fire" and "Check It Out" aired relentlessly on the network during the 1980s.

"MTV propelled us to front and center," Mellencamp said of the era's popular acts. "And it was the biggest hula hoop ever. It went on for 10-15 years. I was on that ride. I’m glad the ride’s over."

The Seymour native said he is grateful for his career, one that has included the co-founding of Farm Aid and more than 27 million albums sold. "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies" will be followed by a career-spanning covers album titled "O.P.M." — or "Other People's Music."

Mellencamp said no one would have predicted he still would be a major-label artist 42 years after he signed his first recording contract.

"There was Sinatra and Dean Martin and those guys from another generation," he said of singers who had longevity when he was a new act in the mid-1970s. "That’s what I am now to kids today. I’m Dean Martin. I’m Sammy Davis Jr. I’m a song and dance man."

But not necessarily a good-time song and dance man. On a recent episode of Sammy Hagar's "Rock and Roll Road Trip" series on cable network AXS TV, Hagar asked Mellencamp if he had fun in the 1980s. "No," came the reply.

In 1998, Mellencamp told IndyStar that battles with record-label executives made that decade miserable.

How are things these days?

"I don’t really look at life as ‘fun’ or ‘not fun,’" Mellencamp said. "I look at, what am I creating? What am I making? I think it’s a fallacy for people to think happiness and fun are valuable commodities. Most people are happy a fraction of the day and then they have to go to work and do stuff they don’t want to do. My life is the same."

Nobody is making Mellencamp play a concert in Indianapolis, and he won't on a 34-date national tour that begins June 5.

"They’ve seen me enough," he said. "I’m 65 years old. I may play there again sometime, but no time soon. Nothing against Indianapolis, but I’ve played there enough."

http://www.indystar.com/story/entertainment/music/2017/04/28/mellencamp-clowns-martina-carlene-izzy-stradlin-indiana-painting-bloomington/100852604/
13  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Variety Interview on: April 29, 2017, 10:41:10 am
John Mellencamp, Self-Confessed ‘Curmudgeon,’ on the Trials of Touring: ‘I’m Not a Jukebox’

By Steve Baltin

Let’s face it, I am a curmudgeon,” John Mellencamp tells Variety. “I hate doing f—ing interviews ’cause I hate talking about myself. It’s like, ‘Interview? Oh God.’ I’m just not that interesting.”

We beg to differ. The artist whose catalog includes 23 studio albums and nearly just as many radio hits (among them: top 10 tunes “Jack & Diane,” “Hurts So Good,” “Small Town,” “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” and “Paper in Fire”) is nothing if not prolific, releasing his latest, the superb “Sad Clowns & Hillbillies,” on Friday, ahead of a 22-date AEG tour this summer (Mellencamp is booked by CAA) with Carlene Carter opening. The trek will mark the first time Mellencamp has played outdoor sheds in 15 years.

“I took myself off the beer and circus tour a long time ago,” he says. “It was not fun — people being drunk and acting like circus clowns. So we play for people who want to hear music and I don’t like to see guys get in fights, I’m not a jukebox, I don’t play all my hits. I got off that a long time ago.”

What else doesn’t he like about touring? Plenty, we discovered during an enlightening and entertaining conversation with Mellencamp, who says, “I wouldn’t want to be a young songwriter today trying to make a living with my songs.”

Ray Davies showed him the concert ropes: “I opened up for the Kinks in the mid- to late-1970s for 130 shows and I learned so much from watching Ray Davies work a crowd every night,” Mellencamp recalls. “We only played 35 or 40 minutes and the Kinks would come out. It was not an enjoyable tour. Ray was, particularly at that time, not the nicest guy, especially to his opening act. He and his brother were always fighting. But when he walked on stage, he turned it on.”

He’s an unapologetic isolationist: “I don’t get paid for being on stage; I get paid for leaving home, traveling on airplanes, and staying in hotels,” says Mellencamp matter-of-factly. “The part of being onstage, I’ll do that for free. My way of being on the road is probably a lot different than you would expect. I’m pretty much an isolationist and my routine is always the same. I very rarely see anybody except when I walk on stage. It’s not like I hang out with anybody. I don’t. I don’t even stay in the same hotel as the band.”

Opinions don’t matter: “We’ve been putting together shows for a long time, I think I know how to do it. I don’t need somebody to review my show. Save it, you’re not going to tell me something I don’t already know.”

Don’t expect — or even ask for — the hits: “‘Hurts So Good’ was a song that caught on at the time probably because they played the hell out of it on MTV,” Mellencamp downplays of his 1982 No. 2 hit. “So I don’t really give much credit to the song. If you compared ‘Easy Targets’ [from ‘Sad Clowns’] to ‘Hurts So Good,’ I don’t think there is any comparison. ‘Easy Targets’ is a much better song. But nobody will hear it the way they heard ‘Hurts So Good.’ It’s all upside down to me. … If I play a song that [the audience] doesn’t respond to, that doesn’t mean I’m going to take it out of the show. You can’t try and second-guess. I just don’t do that.”

http://variety.com/2017/music/news/john-mellencamp-touring-sad-clowns-and-hillbillies-1202403298/
14  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / LA Times "Sad Clowns" Feature on: April 29, 2017, 10:38:24 am
John Mellencamp maintains a rebellious spirit with 'Sad Clowns & Hillbillies'
At 65, John Mellencamp no longer chases drama.
By Melinda Newman


“I have found that life is a big enough adventure,” he says calling from his 86-acre property in Bloomington, Ind. “Young kids go to the movies to be scared. If we were together, I’d say to you, ‘Have you seen this mole on my arm?’ That’s scary enough; I don’t need to see ‘Suicide Squad.’”

Middle age has a way of taming even the most rebellious spirits, and while Mellencamp remains a crusty character full of blunt proclamations and salty language, these days the self-professed homebody takes increasing comfort in the familiar. That’s why he asked his friend, Carlene Carter, to join him on his new set, “Sad Clowns & Hillbillies,” released Friday.

While not an official duets album, Carter earns her co-billing — the album is credited as “John Mellencamp featuring Carlene Carter” — by penning two of the songs and singing and playing on 10 of the 13 tracks. It is Mellencamp’s second set for Republic Records, a label better known for promoting such pop stars as the Weeknd and Ariana Grande than veteran rockers.

Yet growing up, Republic Chief Executive/Chairman Monte Lipman so adored Mellencamp’s music and anti-authoritarian attitude that he signed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee to a lifetime recording contract in 2014. This, despite knowing that Mellencamp could be a tough customer.

“Very first time I met John, he said to me, ’Apparently you heard I threw a chair at a particular record executive, but I’m here to tell you that’s not true. It was actually this other [jerk] at the record company that got furniture tossed at him!’” Lipman writes via email. “Ever since that first encounter, I figured it was in my best interest to sell as many records as possible, and don’t get hit with a chair.”

Mellencamp and Carter met a few years ago when Carter sang “Sugar Hill Mountain” on the Mellencamp-penned soundtrack for “Ithaca,” the directorial debut by his then-girlfriend, Meg Ryan. Mellencamp had been friendly with Carter’s mother, June Carter Cash, and her stepfather, Johnny Cash. The pair toured together in 2015 and formed an easy alliance, bonding over their love of American roots music.

Midway through the tour, Mellencamp recalls passing Carter as he was walking off the stage and saying, “‘I think we should make a gospel record together’ and she said, ‘Oh, that sounds good.’ That’s how it started.”

The plan for the gospel album fell apart after the pair couldn’t agree on the repertoire, but there’s plenty of sin and salvation on “Sad Clowns & Hillbillies,” which Mellencamp recorded at his Belmont Mall studio outside of Bloomington.

“What Kind of Man Am I” — which, along with “You Are Blind,” originally appeared in “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” the musical stage drama written by Mellencamp, Stephen King and T Bone Burnett — is a heavy lament that carries the same world-weary weight as Cash’s version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” “Sad Clowns,” meanwhile, is a tongue-in-cheek, cautionary tale, waving off any woman who comes too close.

Salvation comes with the Carter-penned, redemption-filled “Damascus Road” and “My Soul’s Got Wings,” a Woody Guthrie lyric that Mellencamp set to music.

Perhaps its his heartland roots, but Mellencamp has always excelled at simple stories rather than grand gestures through such hits as “Pink Houses,” “Paper in Fire” and “Small Town.” Carter says it’s a trait his songwriting shares with the music made by her legendary ancestors, the Carter Family.

“As complicated a person as [John] might be,” Carter says, “he does write really catchy. But the content is very real, and I won’t say heavy, but deeper than a little ditty.” [Insert “Jack & Diane” joke here].

On the closing track, “Easy Target,” Mellencamp turns to the big picture, adopting a Tom Waits-like growl as he sings about racial and economic inequality. But he resists the notion that the song is depressing. “There’s a difference between down and observational,” he says. “A down record was ‘Berlin’ by Lou Reed.”

He also scoffs at the impression that his own life serves as the inspiration for any of his songs. “The idea that I’m writing about myself is a fallacy,” he says. “First, I’m not that interesting. As a matter of fact, I get kind of annoyed by that. It’s a song! Do you really think that Tennessee Williams was Stanley Kowalski? He wasn’t. It’s a play! It’s meant to entertain by using reality and observation and thought and imagination.”

Mellencamp will perform songs from “Sad Clowns & Hillbillies” when he hits the road in June for his first headlining amphitheater tour in years, including a June 18 stop at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Although he played minor league baseball stadiums with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson in 2009 and 2010, for the last two decades Mellencamp has preferred 2,000-3,000-seat theaters.

“When you’re playing in front of 18,000-to-20,000 people, you know that guy in the back row is not enjoying it and that is no time to challenge an audience. So I decided a long time ago to play places where I can drag the audience along with me, play new songs, do what I want to do, and not make this about ‘am I the biggest rock star in the world,’” he says.

Four decades in, he’s reached the point where “I don’t get paid for going on stage, I get paid for leaving home,” he says.

He emphasizes that he has little use for money or fame. The former he says, he too often squandered when he was young — “I either spent it or lost it or wasted it on whiskey or women,” he says — while the latter has only proved to be an irritant, especially when he found himself tabloid fodder as he dated Ryan and then Christie Brinkley, with whom he split last year. “I hate it,” he says. “I don’t know why anybody would give a [crap] who an old man would go out with. I could care less about anybody’s personal love life.”

These days, his constant companion is his paint brush. The accomplished painter declares that he has not left his property in 45 days, instead spending eight hours a day on his feet, painting. “I’ve done like 17 paintings or something,” he says.

His Midwestern work ethic doesn’t tolerate sitting around. “I’m a very active, Type A-type of guy,” he says. “If a day goes by and I don’t make something, I feel guilty. I exercise every day. If I don’t paint or I don’t write a song or I don’t do a performance, then I’m being lazy and I need to get to work.”

But he warns this summer could be the last chance to catch him in large outdoor venues and vows that he is one act that will never play the festival circuit. “If I have to do those things, I’m quitting,” he says. “If your motivation is the money, it’s the wrong motivation.”

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-john-mellencamp-20170426-story.html
15  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Paste Magazine "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies" Review on: April 26, 2017, 10:42:23 pm
John Mellencamp: Sad Clowns & Hillbillies Review
By Ben Salmon  |  April 26, 2017


Heartland rocker. Hoosier hit-maker. Political populist. One-time “next Springsteen.” Farm Aid founder. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. After 40 years and 23 albums, John Mellencamp’s place in the pantheon of late 20th century pop music is well established.

But for the past decade or so, The Artist Formerly Known As The Coug has downshifted significantly, digging into raw American folk, blues and roots music. He started in earnest with 2010’s No Better than This, recorded with old-fashioned technology in historic spaces, and continued through 2014’s aptly named Plain Spoken.

Mellencamp’s new album, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, isn’t quite as slowly paced and sparsely produced as its predecessors, but it does further the man’s late-career move toward a space that’s about as far from pop stardom as you can get. This time, veteran country artist and longtime Mellencamp touring partner Carlene Carter is a prominent contributor, writing some songs, co-writing others and singing on several.

Early on, Sad Clowns sounds like Mellencamp’s version of The Mountain, Steve Earle’s excellent 1999 bluegrass one-off recorded with the Del McCoury Band. Opening track “Mobile Blue” isn’t exactly a traditional string-band jam, but it does prominently feature the whine of a fiddle and mandolin as Mellencamp tells a typical blue-collar tale. Next up, “Battle of Angels,” does the same while following a more familiar bluegrass groove. It’s one of Sad Clowns’ strongest moments.

But just when you think Mellencamp might be retreating deeper into bygone sounds, along comes “Grandview,” an electrified blues-rocker (and duet with Martina McBride) that swaggers and smolders like something out of the man’s fertile mid-’80s period, which produced weighty hits like “Rain on the Scarecrow” and “Paper in Fire.” Mellencamp didn’t write “Grandview” all by himself (he shares the credit with his cousin, Bobby Clark), but he does inject it with a satisfying shot of gritty sincerity (and trailer lust) that ought to tickle any old Mellencamp fan’s hippocampus.

Sad Clowns & Hillbillies is a solid effort with as many peaks and valleys as southern Indiana. “Indigo Sunset” is a soulfully beautiful duet with Carter, highlighted by some sweet vintage organ burble. “My Soul’s Got Wings” is a guitar-driven gospel tune with a glorious singalong chorus. The Carter-led “Sugar Hill Mountain” benefits from its woozy Dixieland vibe. And the topical closer “Easy Target,” with its late-night Tom Waits feel and Black Lives Matter lyric, finds Mellencamp decrying “the war on easy targets” and “our country’s broken heart.”

That list that kicked off this review? Add to it: Perpetually underrated songwriter. Sad Clowns is proof Mellencamp still knows how to do it.

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/04/john-mellencamp-sad-clowns-hillbillies-review.html
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