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Author Topic: 2003 Classic Rock Magazine Article  (Read 3825 times)
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« on: December 16, 2010, 12:17:51 am »

John Mellencamp

He's handy with an artist's paintbrush, a fan of 50s and 60s movies, and
although he's planning on writing a book, he tells Jerry Ewing, reading one
is about the last thing you'll find him doing.


"A kind of a good thing about being John Mellencamp is that I can come and
go as I like, and every day is similar but always different. I have five
kids - a 33-year-old daughter; a 22-year-old daughter; a 17-year-old
daughter; Hud, my eldest boy is nine and his little brother's eight. So I
have a lot of kids.

"I'm always writing songs, and it seems like I'm always talking on the
telephone about some kind of business. I'm very fortunate, too, that I get
a lot of requests. Like next week I'm going to New York to accept the Woody
Guthrie Award from the Woody Guthrie Foundation which is a nice thing to
receive. So I have a nice life. I can't complain. I do, though, even
though I shouldn't.

"I've been painting for quite a number of years. I have an art studio and
two or three days I'm up there painting. I could always draw as a kid.
About 1987, I'd been making records for quite some time and I wanted to
pursue an activity that didn't involve having 50 people around all the time.
So I started painting. I went to New York to study how to paint and didn't
do any music for three years. Painting's different to what everybody thinks
it is. They think it's a leisurely activity but it's not really. It's
creation, like writing a song or writing a script.

"With painting, I don't have to worry about record companies, or anybody's
opinion, or selling out shows. It's a very personal thing. Every once in a
while I'll have a showing, although I haven't had one in eight or nine
years. I have thousands of painting and I like the idea of having something
to show for my time.

"I live in Bloomington, Indiana, which is home to one of the biggest
American universities, Louisiana State. It has 70,000 students. The town
only has 150,000 people, with the students, so subtract them and it's a very
small town, but with a very diverse culture. There's Indiana basketball,
which is huge in the United States, and American football. There's a lot of
restaurants and it's very youth-oriented because of the college.

"I lived in London for eighteen months, recording my first album. But I
never felt comfortable in London and I was always in some kind of trouble
there. It was not a good environment for me and in the long run I think it'
s helped me staying here in Indiana. And in some ways it may have hurt me.

"There's such a political underbelly to small-town farm life. And I
understand the political side to it better than if I'd lived in New York and
just showed up and played at Farm Aid, which I helped set up. I'm getting
ready to do a television show next Friday about the farm crisis. Some TV
celebrity said on TV that all farmers were welfare ninny pansies. A
terrible fucking statement. And I'm going on TV to respond. But the
subsidy laws in the United States are wrong. The government pays out
billions of dollars in subsidies to farmers but only ten percent receive the
subsidies - and they're big factory farms; your average farmer doesn't get a
fucking dime. It's wrong.

"I don't really think too much about relaxing. I try to put myself in the
moment; I say I 'try' but I can't always do that. I try not to think about
how I feel. I try to keep my life on as even a keel as I can because as a
younger man and even to this day sometimes, I have tremendous outbursts of
anger. They seemed to do me damage as a younger man. I try to put myself
in a position where that doesn't happen but I don't really sit there and
say, I think I'll take a few relaxing hours.

"I know nothing about new films but I know loads about old films. I think
the best film ever made was A Streetcar Named Desire. I think a lot of
those films made in the late 50s and early 60s were the greatest ever made -
films like Cool Hand Luke and Little Big Man. But as for the new big
blockbusters, I'm ashamed they're being made. They're only there to please
stockbrokers. But my biggest problem is that the American public doesn't
seem to mind. I have a movie theatre in my house and I take great pride in
showing people these films. And I'm amazed some people don't know them. It
's like, how do you go through life and not know who Bob Dylan is, or Woody

"I equate it to the same thrill as discovering Robert Johnson in the 60s
when I was a teenager. Or the Lovin' Spoonful. Discovering these artists
as if these records were made for me and me alone. It gives me great
pleasure to share that with other people and now that I'm 51 I have a large
circle of friends to share with.

"I don't read much. In fact in my life I've probably read only two books
cover to cover. The reason is that I was dyslexic and reading was slow and
painful for me. Nowadays I can read great but reading was never really a
part of my life as a teenager or in my twenties. I read a lot of magazines
but as far as sitting down with a book, I've never really done that. I
regret it. But I fully intend to write a book one day, when I don't want to
go on tour any more and I've painted all my paintings, and I think that not
having read too many will work to my advantage.
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