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Author Topic: 2001 Billboard Award Matthew McConaughey's JM Speech  (Read 8074 times)
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« on: July 17, 2013, 12:31:51 am »

The 2001 Billboard Century Award was presented to John Mellencamp by Matthew McConaughey at the Dec. 4, 2001 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. Below is full text of both McConaughey's and Mellencamp's speeches that night.

Matthew McConaughey's JM tribute speech:

It's about one o'clock in the morning in 1983. I'm 14 years old, and my brother shakes me awake, saying, "Hey man, you've got to come out to the car and hear something." We go outside, and we get in his '81 Camaro, and we start rockin' to this new album that he just got. The music was aggressive. It was raw, elbow-greased, in-your-face, rock'n'roll with rhythm. The kind of songs you like the first time you hear 'em, you love the second time, and you sing along to the third time.

Three hours later, when we turned off the ignition and went to bed, I was a fan of this guy my brother called Cougar. The same guy whose mama named him John Mellencamp. For me, this music was what any good rock'n'roll should be. It was a visceral experience that you can't really explain, but you just feel it in your loins. And it felt good. At 14 years old, I went to school and was trying to pull off some of John's lines on the freshman girls, like: "Make me feel like a man after all/I want to put my kicking mule into your stall." John is a romantic. He was my poet. I was experiencing his music as he made it. I was growing up with him, and I was watching him grow.

He's the only musician I've ever listened to whom I believed has been speaking to me. It's like he's been reading my mail. His music let me know that I wasn't the only kid in the world who was trying to believe in something. That I wasn't the only kid in the world who was confused, bored, and running away from myself. He believes that the birth of something is when it's [at its] most beautiful, that [if] children don't grow up to know better, they grow up to know worse.

He takes life seriously. He'll tell you straight out, "I've got two moods. I'm either pissed off or I'm all right, but I ain't never happy." He believes blood is thicker than water and worth more than a dollar bill. He says life ain't easy, and if you do things your own way and you give a damn, you will pay a high price. But, if you're honest, your pillow will be your piece of mind. John believes in the American dream: for you, for me, for himself, and all of those out there who have never even had a chance to dream about it. He says hold on to your ideals, stay strong, and don't sell your soul to the devil in the name of greed and instant gratification.

But don't misunderstand me. John Mellencamp is not a preacher. Instead of talking about religion, instead of talking about politics, he's singing about culture and humanity. He'll be the first to say, "Hey man, it's about the message, not the messenger. I sing about how it's supposed to be, not how I am." John knows that we're all sinners. And as quick as he is to condemn, he'll forgive just as soon on one condition: that you're doing the best you can do. He challenges hypocrisy. He will not accept sleepwalking through this life. He asks us to be accountable because judgment day is going to come. Now whether that was Sept. 11 or when you move on from this life, you better take inventory right now so [that] when you do get there, you don't realize in vain that, "Hey man, the bed's made, but there's no sheets on it." What is the value left in love and happiness when you're sleeping with your back to your loved one and you can't tell your best buddy that you love him? A world without color is a world without sound. So get with it. Enjoy every single day in this whole catastrophe of life because the pendulum will continue to swing between a laugh and a tear. And you know what? That's as good as it gets for us. Between a laugh and a tear. So there ain't no reason to stop trying. That's John Mellencamp. Thank you.

I am honored and proud to now present John Mellencamp with this year's Century Award.

John's acceptance speech:

Ten years ago tonight, George Harrison accepted this award. It was the first Century Award. So I'm deeply humbled, and I'm grateful to be here for the 10th Century Award. Thank you, guys, very much. You know, I gotta tell you, I don't really know why I'm getting this award tonight. All I really wanted to do was make a record when I started out. I never gave much thought to accepting these awards. My career has always been messy business. That's probably because I've never planned anything in my life.

I've always seemed a little out of step with the times. I've pretty much grown up in public. I started making records real young. Making mistakes, saying the wrong things, and trying to get myself away from whatever was popular at the moment. I never wanted to fit in. But I'll tell you guys one thing: I've always tried to be honest, and I have never, ever kissed anybody's ass. I've always tried to challenge myself in my own way musically. So I'm really just the guy pushing the rock up the hill. Always pushing the rock up the hill. I, however, have made a few friends in the music business who like me a little bit, and I'd like to say thanks to them: Timothy White, John Sykes, Allen Grubman, Randy Hoffman, Mike Wanchic, Harry Sandler, Tracy Cowles, and my wife, Elaine Mellencamp. I'd also like to thank Howard Lander and all the people at Billboard magazine. Donny [Ienner] and Tommy [Mottola] at Sony and all those folks. Alain Levy and Dick Asher, some old friends I had when it used to be PolyGram Records.

But I'll tell you guys one thing: There's not one person that you'll ever see in your life that's had more fun in the music business than me. I have laughed at stuff for 25 years--'til I cried I laughed at stuff. Stuff that I've seen, crazy stuff that I've done. And I'll tell you, if you guys who are just starting out or just have a couple records under your belt can have half as much fun as I did, then you'll be successful. Listen, everybody have a merry Christmas. Thank you very much for this award. And let's pray for a peaceful world, all right? Thank you very much.
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