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Author Topic: 1992 WWW Tour Article  (Read 15233 times)
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« 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


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."
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