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Author Topic: 1989 Big Daddy Article  (Read 5619 times)
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« on: March 08, 2011, 11:25:01 pm »

Mellencamp weary of the pop life

By Gary Gaff
Knight-Ridder Newspapers
August 2, 1989

There are a few things John Cougar Mellencamp wants to make clear.

First, he won't be going on tour this year, even with a new album "Big Daddy" to promote. He's even gone so far as to tell his managers and agents that "I'll hang up on them if they bring it up one more time," he says by telephone from his home near Bloomington, Ind.

He's also through with interviews and with tracking the progress of "Big Daddy" a wasn't intended to be a commercial record on the pop charts. "It's over, isn't it?" he says. "There are no real pop songs on this record. I don't think you'll be hearing much more from this album."

AND, HE ADDS, we won't be hearing much from Mellencamp, either. "I need to get out of this business for a while," he says. "I've been beating my head against the wall since I was 23. I've got no family, no self-respect I've put everything into the rock 'n' roll business.

"And I don't think they're gonna give me a crown for it in heaven, either."

Mellencamp's disillusionment should come as no surprise to anybody who's given "Big Daddy" even a cursory listen. It's splashed all over the first single, "Pop Singer," as he rants: "Never wanted to be no pop singer/Never wanted to write no pop song/Never had no weird hair to get my songs over/Never want to hang out after the show."

"THERE'S A difference between this record and all my other records," Mellencamp says. "Before, I was writing about the things I've seen; I took great pride and pleasure in saying I was a reporter. I wasn't a reporter on this record; this record is full of things I felt."

So we're talking about a guy who's weary of the pop life, even after recovering from a bogus start as Johnny Cougar during the 70s to sell more than 14 million records this decade and earn critical praise for populist anthems like "Pink Houses," "Rain on the Scarecrow" and "Paper in Fire."

"John will be the first guy to say that he's so disgusted with the music business that he wants to quit sometimes," his longtime guitarist Mike Wanchic told the radio trade publication Monday Morning Replay. "He really isn't against the people in the biz, but rather not wanting to be a disposable piece of merchandise. He doesn't want to be a pop singer."

Mellencamp, however, knows that some people might question his right to complain after earning millions of dollars and becoming an international star. "I know they say, 'Well, he's rich and famous, so he ought to be happy,' " Mellencamp says. "Well . . . When people say to me that they're contented, that they're perfectly happy, I get bored stiff. I can see where they're coming from. I say 'You're that kind of person who cares about the car you drive or what kinda label is on them jeans you wear.'"

HE STOPS and chuckles at the intensity of his tirade. "Hell, you know me," he says. "I'm never satisfied with anything."

Mellencamp has learned to resign himself to some things, though. Although it's arguably his finest album, "Big Daddy" is his worst-seller since before 1982's "American Fool:" released in May, it sold a million copies during its first two weeks of release but has slowed and is slipping down the charts. And he doesn't think the mournful new single "Jackie Brown" will jump-start its sales. Still, he claims success or failure means little to him.

"I think this record is for the guys who really like John Mellencamp," he says. "The masses I don't think they'll know this record is out.

"BUT YOU KNOW something: as far I know. I don't sell no records. I guess I do, because they pay me, but I don't consciously think that right now there's somebody listening to my record some place. Those thoughts elude me. I don't get any pleasure from thinking like that. I don't know why, but I never look at myself as a guy who's sold tens of millions of records."

Mellencamp says he's always tried to be a rock 'n' roll singer as opposed to a pop star. "Pop songs are meant to be light and airy," he explains. "They're not supposed to mean too much. Rock songs are for real, for keeps. It's the difference between 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' and 'Like A Rolling Stone.'

"But in 1989, there's no room for a rock 'n' roll singer. Hey, the only songs I've ever had on the radio are pop songs.

"The fact that I was ever commercial was strictly by accident. Quality doesn't mean (anything) anymore."

So in this dour and angry state, Mellencamp is taking a break. There's plenty to occupy his time, including patching up his eight-year marriage; he and his wife Vicky separated last year. But top of mind is a new artistic interest; Mellencamp took up painting seriously last year, when Vicky considered buying a painting for $15,000.

"I said, 'Show it to me and I'll paint it and save the money,' " Mellencamp says with a laugh.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2011, 05:24:50 pm by walktall2010 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2012, 06:29:10 am »


JM really was in a bad place, mentally and emotionally, around this time.
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