Older Mellencamp brings audience back to youth
By John Papendick Aberdeen
At 65, John Mellencamp still is fighting authority.
This time, the Midwestern singer seems to be winning unlike his lyrics “I fight authority and authority always wins.”
Most older touring rock stars, who sing to us graying Baby Boomers the songs of our youth, charge hundreds of dollars for us to listen to their hits.
But Mellencamp is different. He is who he said he was in another of his hit songs: “Never wanted to be no pop singer, Never wanted to write no pop songs.”
Like the story he told of his aging grandmother who lived to be 100 but has since died. She was active until her last months.
Always called “Buddy” by his grandmother, he was by her side in bed one day when she wanted to pray. Deep into the prayer holding Buddy’s hand, grandmother said something like, “Me and Buddy are ready to meet you in heaven.”
Mellencamp interrupted his set Nov. 2 in Sioux Falls to jokingly tell his grandmother that he couldn’t go with her because he still had some sinning to do on earth. She said it was just like her Buddy to mess up a prayer.
She told him he eventually would learn that “life is short, even in its longest days.” Any songwriter would love to have relatives who give them the gift of words like those.
“I’m no day at the beach,” Mellencamp later would tell us. But then, who amongst us are?
Mellencamp has a lot of hits from which to choose. And he sang a number of them, mixed in with other selections from his wide-ranging category of songs along with some very cool jazz and blues.
Even when he went to his hits, his talented teammates who make up his band would do intros so you didn’t know the hits were coming. At least that was the case for me.
And it seemed like he changed up some of his chart-topping songs as well at the Mary W. Sommervold Hall of the Washington Pavilion.
That was different as well. It was fun to see a famous singer in an intimate, gorgeous setting of 2,000 fans rather than a huge, bland arena or mammoth, sterile outdoor stadium of tens of thousands.
In one night, most big acts who still can fill intimate settings, huge arenas or mammoth stadiums are trying to fit in all their hit songs the way their fans remember them. I love those kind of acts.
But on a night when the Chicago Cubs were winning Game 7 of the World Series (we still got to see the ninth and 10th innings), Mellencamp was winning over a group of his fellow Midwesterners.
It is something he has been doing his whole career, and in his own way. I’ve always seen Mellencamp as a bit of a rebel, and the rebellion continues.
Mellencamp couldn’t help but taking the paths less traveled in the small Indiana town where he grew up. It led him to helping, sticking up and singing out for the underdogs in life like farmers. Thus leading some adult fans wearing the FFA jackets of their youth to see him in Sioux Falls.
I would have worn mine, but it doesn’t fit anymore. Still, this night of my youth fit me just fine.http://www.aberdeennews.com/entertainment/papendick-older-mellencamp-brings-audience-back-to-youth/article_e272aada-6ada-54f2-9cca-62d0b9a88fe5.html