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Author Topic: 2007 MySpace "Freedom's Road" Interview  (Read 4981 times)
walktall2010
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« on: December 22, 2010, 05:44:20 pm »

Interview with John Mellencamp - January 15, 2007

This was my first interview with John Mellencamp, who is releasing an
album, "Freedom's Road" on Jan. 23. He has a reputation for a short
temper, so I was on my best behaviour when he called me at home on
Monday morning. Turns out he was quite the chatty charmer, who
handily managed to dodge a few questions amid the frequent laughter.
He interrupted the interview a few times to fire some questions at me
about New Zealand, which he visited in 1976, "and it was fuckin'
great! ... The TV set just had two buttons, and that was your
choices. It took me back to the '50s." He was even thinking of moving
down there to make good on a vague promise if Bush got re-elected,
and contacted a realtor, but nothing came of it. He also loves the
OMC novelty song "How Bizarre."

QUICK RECAP. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO IN THE THREE YEARS
SINCE "TROUBLE IN MIND" (COLUMBIA, 2003) AND THIS RECORD COMING OUT?


A lot of things. It took almost a year just to write these songs. And
I've been working on a musical with Stephen King which has got, like,
17 songs on it! So I've been writing that. We were in New York and we
worked on that. Plus, I'm a painter, so I've been painting. And I've
done maybe 70 shows. Is that enough?

WELL, YOU DIDN'T MENTION THE DOMESTIC CHORES, RAISING A FAMILY AND
ALL THAT STUFF


That all comes with it. I forgot that I had this interview, and the
guy that works for me came up and said, "John, you've got an
interview." Oh yeah, I forgot about that. And I was refereeing a
basketball game between my two boys, and I was glad to get out of
that, because they were killing each other!

HAPPY TO HELP. WERE YOU SERIOUS ABOUT WANTING TO GIVE UP THE MUSIC
BUSINESS AFTER YOUR PROBLEMS AT COLUMBIA?


Oh, I've always been an outsider in the music business. Always. Ever
since I was a kid. I'm 55 years old now and I've done kinda things
the way that I wanted to and sometimes they're not always what the
record companies have wanted, or what was considered cool or not
cool. I've always been kind of an outsider. I'm used to it.

AND YOU'VE GOT THIS REPUTATION FOR BEING INTENSE, SO MAYBE COLUMBIA
MIGHT HAVE A DIFFERENT VERSION OF EVENTS?


I don't know what you're talking about! What kind of reputation?!

YOU SAID THE SONGWRITING PROCESS TOOK ABOUT A YEAR. BUT THE ACTUAL
RECORDING WAS FAIRLY QUICK -- ABOUT JUNE TO AUGUST -- ALTHOUGH MAYBE
NOT AT "UH-HUH" SPEED?


Actually, the recording started probably in May, and rehearsals
started in May. But we didn't know we were recording. We thought we
were rehearsing and arranging, but some of these songs have, like, 30
or 40 hours of arrangements on 'em. And when musicians play a song
that many times, that many days in a row, and then you record it and
call it a demo tape, and you come back to re-record it six months
later, you're never gonna get that vibe again. You just can't
recreate that. So we just decided, after about the first two or three
arrangements, I said to the guys, "Hey fellas, these recordings could
be the record, so be cognizant of that as we go along." And we all
kind of were, and we all kind of weren't, because we didn't really
know where we stood until we went in the studio and recorded a song,
and it just wasn't as good as the demo. So we went back to those
demos and they became the record.

SO WHAT I'M HEARING ARE THE DEMOS WITH A FEW OVERDUBS HERE AND THERE
TO TAKE OUT THE KINKS AND THAT'S BASICALLY IT?


You're exactly right. The vocals and the background vocals were all
overdubbed, and a guitar part here and there, maybe a tambourine
part. But other than that -- after 30 hours in a garage -- while you
guys in Los Angeles were basking in the sun, I was in that stinky,
little sweaty garage all last summer!

AFTER SPENDING 30-40 HOURS ON A SONG, YOU MUST ALMOST BE SICK OF IT,
RIGHT?


Not "almost" -- totally sick of it. But what happens is when you do
that, you know every note that's in the air, and everybody in the
room knows every note that's in the air. The drummer knows what the
guitar player's doing. The guitar player knows exactly what the organ
player's doing, and all the way around the room, so everybody knows
everybody's part. And that very rarely happens. If you go into a
studio and you're making a song up, which is what I've done since
about the '90s -- I had just gone into the studio and the guys in the
band had never heard the songs until that day. We recorded 'em, we
did an arrangement and that was it. So the whole damn thing took 10,
12 hours. This process was totally different. This was the old,
beginner's way of doing stuff.

WAS THERE ONE SONG MORE THAN ANOTHER THAT WAS A PAIN IN THE ASS?

You identified it! They're all problems. There was a couple of
records that I wanted to make sure ended up on the record, and one
of 'em, which sounds a little different than the rest of the songs,
is the song called "Rural Route." And the reason "Rural Route" sounds
different is that we never could really get the right arrangement for
that song, so we ended up doing it just me with an acoustic guitar
and then building on it. And there was another song called "Ernest
Hemingway" that we just couldn't get an arrangement, but the thing
had 14 verses, so it was rough.

"ERNEST HEMINGWAY" DIDN'T MAKE THE CUT?

Ernest Hemingway didn't make the cut, but it might appear on another
record somewhere along the line. Or as a much shorter version down
the line!

WHAT'S THE LYRICAL GIST OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY?

"I boxed Ernest Hemingway last night in a bar down in the Keys. He
was old and slow, and he beat the hell out of me."

HMM, VERY CUTE. AND "RURAL ROUTE," IT'S ONE OF THE MORE SPARSE SONGS
ON THE RECORD. I GUESS IT'S PARADOXICAL THAT IT WOULD TAKE THE
LONGEST TO GET TOGETHER?


Oh yeah. Arrangement after arrangement after arrangement. Five and
six days on that song. And the band never really got anything that
worked, so that just is basically an acoustic performance with
overdubs.

THAT DRUM OUTRO AT THE END IS INTERESTING

Ahh, well, it's interesting that you would notice that because that
drum intro in one of the arrangements, it happened in the middle of
the song, and that's like a drum kit with maybe 20 marching drums,
like they have on marching teams. We had this beautiful drum section,
and I thought, "Well fuck! We can't waste this." And that's why it's
at the end of the song. The original drum section was maybe a minute
and a half, so we only used about 10 seconds.

ARE THERE LOTS OF MELLENCAMP STUDIO BOOTLEGS THAT COME OUT SOON AFTER
A NEW RECORD COMES OUT?


I don't think so, because I own my own studio. And when those bootleg
things come around it's when guys are in studios that they've rented.
And I've had my own studio since 1983, and have recorded almost
exclusively at that studio.

I'M PROBABLY THE ONLY PERSON ON THE PLANET WHO DOESN'T HAVE A PROBLEM
WITH YOUR CHEVY AD. BUT WHY ARE YOU PUSHING A GAS GUZZLER FOR A
CORPORATE DINOSAUR? WHY DIDN'T YOU HOOK UP WITH VICTORIA'S SECRET, OR
APPLE?


That Victoria's Secret worked out good for Bob (Dylan), didn't it?

WELL, HIS LAST RECORD WENT TO NUMBER ONE!


Yeah, but it wasn't because of that commercial. I don't even
understand why people are even talking to me about it. I answer the
question, but I don't understand what they're talking to me about. I
don't see that commercial half as much as I see (sings) "I'm Free!"
(for a Chase Bank credit card). That commercial's on everywhere, and
that's the Rolling Stones.

WELL, I DON'T THINK THEY DON'T HAVE CONTROL OVER THAT SONG. THAT'S
ALLEN KLEIN'S DOING. ALL THE STUFF PRE-72 IS OUT OF THEIR CONTROL


I thought they got all that stuff back?

NO! HELL NO! WELL, I THINK THEY'VE REACHED AN AGREEMENT WHERE THEY
AGREE TO DISAGREE.


That's the problem with the English is that they used to have a thing
there that the manager was also the publisher and was also the agent.
They would tie these bands up totally. That's what happened to me. My
first two managers were English. I remember when I signed away my
publishing. It was 1977, I was in London, I had no money, I had six
guys with me that were in a band. We were all living together in a
house. And my management company said to me, "John, have you thought
about your publishing?" And I said, 'No.' I didn't even know what it
was. So I go to this place, and this attorney goes, "Billy (Gaff)'s
worried about your publishing, and he would like to --." These were
the exact words, man. "He would like to relinquish you of the
responsibility of having to worry about it. Here's 30-grand." So for
$30,000, I sold some songs. I tried to buy it back in 1984 at $7
million, but he wouldn't take it.

WHAT SONGS DO YOU OWN, FROM WHAT PERIOD ONWARDS?

From '84 on. (laughs)

IT'S NOT LIKE YOU'RE TOTALLY BEREFT OF COPYRIGHTS. BUT IT WOULD BE
NICE TO HAVE EVERYTHING


I think in 2012 everything reverts back to me. So I get it back
eventually. But when you sign away that stuff when you're 22 years
old, that's 1976-77, 2012 seems a long way away.

YOU HAVE TAKEN A LOT OF FLAK FOR CHEVY. I THOUGHT GAS GUZZLERS WERE
ANATHEMA TO ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS LIBERAL TYPES?


My plan is to use up all the fossil fuel in the world, and that
makes 'em go somewhere else!! (Huh?) No, actually, I think the reason
people are giving me grief about it is because I ... I still don't
think people should sell their songs for commercial use, but things
have changed dramatically. For a guy my age, there's no place -- it's
not just me, it's Petty, it's all of us guys -- there's just no place
for our music to be heard. These records take too long. They're too
hard to make, and they're too hard to do, and why would you want to
do 'em unless people are going to hear 'em? I've said this before:
Chevrolet actually has been a better record company to me than
Columbia ever was. At least they were honest. They said, This is what
we're going to do, and this what they did. I never got that kind of
honesty from Columbia. And quite honestly, anybody that's ever signed
a major record deal knows when they're signing that deal, they have
sold out. So let's just call a spade a spade. When you sign a record
deal, you have sold out.

I GUESS OLD SONGS LIKE "JACK AND DIANE" OR "HURTS SO GOOD" WOULD BE
OFF-LIMITS? YOU WOULDN'T SELL THOSE?


I don't want to say this, but I probably never will. I don't see any
point. I think also that's another reason why people are so confused.
This is kinda uncharted territory. Most people will sell old songs,
but won't sell a new one. This is a brand new song that's on a
record. And if you hear the CD and you hear the content of "Our
Country" inside the CD, it's a whole different song inside that
album.

DID CHEVY HAVE ANY SAY OVER THE LYRICS?

Oh, no, no, no. That song is three years old. I was playing that song
live, and that's how they heard that song, opening up those 70 shows
I was telling you about. I did shows in places like Green Bay,
Wisconsin, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, towns like that, and I was
opening the show in these arenas with that song. They heard the song,
and that's how the whole thing came about.

SINCE YOU OWN MOST OF YOUR PUBLISHING, WHY DON'T YOU BE MORE
AGGRESSIVE ABOUT PLACING SONGS IN FILM AND TV? MAYBE A MELLENCAMP-
THEMED EPISODE OF "COLD CASE"? IS THAT SOMETHING YOU'RE PURSUING?


Y'know, I don't know what TV show it was, but they did an entire
episode and used my songs. I don't know what show it was.

YOU DON'T FOLLOW THE INS AND OUTS OF YOUR PUBLISHING VERY CLOSELY?

No, no, I do. But I always say no, so it's easy. It's easier just to
say no, and not have to worry about arguing with somebody about the
way they use it. If you go back to Chevy, that first commercial, they
said, "What do you want to do?" I said, "If you're going to show 'Our
Country,' show our country. Show the good, show the bad, show the
people who've achieved, show the people who have betrayed." That's
how that commercial ended up like it did. Actually, when you see the
very first commercial, it's like seeing a video and they roll a truck
out at the end. And they did exactly what they said they would do.
Unlike some record companies I've been on.

YOUR WIFE DRIVES AN AUDI. WHAT DO YOU DRIVE?

She has an Audi. You know, I have 50 cars. My favorite car to drive
right now though, unless it snows, is a 1956 Nomad station wagon, a
Chevy station wagon, that I've had for years, that barely has a front
seat in it, doesn't have a back seat, doesn't have a headliner,
doesn't have carpet, doesn't have any of that stuff. But it does have
XM Radio.

UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC RECORDS PRESIDENT MONTE LIPMAN PUBLICLY EXPRESSED
CONCERN ABOUT THE RISK OF OVER-EXPOSURE. HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT HIS
LITTLE STATEMENT?


I think that's goofy. If there was such a thing as over-exposure,
Madonna would never sell a record. I've had No. 1 records before, and
although this commercial is seen by a certain segment of the
population, I have friends that have never even seen it. If they
don't watch sports, they've never seen it.

YEAH, I'VE SEEN THE "I'M FREE" AD MORE OFTEN THAN YOUR AD BECAUSE I
DON'T WATCH SPORT


Yeah, if you watch sports, they'll cluster those spots, and you'll
see it 4 or 5 times in a row, and then you won't see any more. I'm
sure if you're sitting there you think that's a lot. But I know a lot
of women who've never seen it. One of my best friends is a French
guy. He doesn't even know what I'm talking about!

DO YOU THINK IT GIVES UNIVERSAL AN "OUT" IN CASE THE RECORD DOESN'T
DO WELL, AND THEY CAN SAY, IT'S ALL HIS FAULT. HE FLOGGED OFF THE
SONG TO CHEVY AND SCREWED UP THE WHOLE PROCESS?


I don't think they're going to do that. Besides, my deal with
Universal, I was very cognizant of the fact I will make one record.
I'm not signing any long-term record deals any more. So I'll make one
record with you guys, and if they want another record, then they'll
have to be successful. If not, I'll do something else. But I'm not
interested in any long-term commitments at this point in my life.

IN "THE AMERICANS," YOU MAKE THE POINT THAT YOU TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE
CULTURES OF THE WORLD, WHICH I THOUGHT WAS VERY ADMIRABLE. BUT DO YOU
THINK THE PROBLEM IS THAT MORE AMERICANS PROBABLY RELATE TO THE ALAN
JACKSON SONG ("WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING?") WHERE
HE PROUDLY SAYS HE DOESN'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IRAN AND IRAQ?


When I was writing these lyrics, songs like "Ghost Towns Along the
Highway," those songs were written on two different levels. It seems
like there's a lot of geography going on in this record. But
actually "Ghost Towns" is about things that each individual leaves
behind, the way that you thought you would go in your life, and the
turns that have taken you from New Zealand to Los Angeles, how did
that happen? And the people that you've hurt or the people you've
loved. That is what that song is about. It's two levels. The
song "The Americans," this is not who we are, this is who we say are,
this is what we're striving to be, this is who we wish we were, but
it's not who we are. Each verse is really addressing a geographical
part of the country, and it talks about the West Coast "with our
agriculture and beautiful movie stars." Well of course the
agriculture that you're bragging about on the West Coast is all
corporate farming, and it's all factory farming. And beautiful movie
stars? Well, perhaps. You can't take these songs at face value. I
wrote a song a long time ago called "Pink Houses" (from 1983's "Uh-
Huh") where the chorus went, "Ain't that America." And it was the
biggest slam on America that you could ever write, but so many people
just only heard that chorus. I think "The Americans" is a positive
song. It's who we would like to be. It's who we say we are. But it's
not really who we are now, is it?

SO YOU'RE ACTUALLY BEING A WEE BIT IRONIC?

Well, I live in a town (Bloomington, Indiana) that is the most
liberal town in what people would refer to as a red state. There's a
college here, and a lot of my friends are that way. But a lot of my
friends are not that way. So, like I said, all the cultures of the
world? Yeah, if you would ask a couple of guys that are professors
here that I know, and are coaches here, they would say, "Yeah, I know
all about it." I also have some other friends who would say, "Let 'em
rot!"

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF THE REPUBLICANS, OR EVEN THE DEMOCRATS, CO-
OPTED "THE AMERICANS" IN MUCH THE WAY AS RONALD REAGAN DID "BORN IN
THE USA"?


Here's the thing. I am a very liberal person. I'm liberal-minded and
I'm for people doing well. I'm always for Tom Petty. Do good, Tom,
because if you do good there's an opportunity for me to do good. Do
good, Bruce. If there's an opportunity for Bruce to do good, there's
an opportunity for me to do good. I'm for people doing well. But I
have found with politicians -- and I am more Democratic-leaning than
Republican -- when you take their pants down they all have the same
underwear on. So I'm always a little skeptical of what will happen,
and what won't happen when you commit to... Nothing in this world is
as it seems.

FOR ME "FORGIVENESS" RANKS ALONGSIDE "HUMAN WHEELS" AS ONE OF MY
FAVORITE MELLENCAMP TRACKS, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?


Since it's right in the middle of the record, it's sorta the theme of
the entire record. All of the things that we've done, and all of the
things that we will do. I've been married 15 years to my wife, and if
she wasn't so forgiving, I probably wouldn't have been married that
long. It's her ability to forgive, and in a marriage it's always
kinda nice to have somebody that's got a big heart, and can forgive
and also is a little blind. I think that probably works pretty well
in government too. If we were a little blind and had a little
forgiveness and a little bit more diplomacy, perhaps we wouldn't be
in the problems that we're in here. I've always been against this
Iraq War from the fuckin' get go. Never saw the sense in it. Never
was one of those people who wanted to get revenge at any cost: "Let's
just be revengeful for whatever reason. Whoever's close." And now
look at the mess we're in. It's a terrible thing.

ALL WARS ARE PRETTY MESSY AREN'T THEY? WORLD WAR II WASN'T GOING VERY
WELL FOR A LOT OF IT, AS FAR AS AMERICA WAS CONCERNED?


Listen, I'm not a religious guy, but there's a big rule. The bible --
all those stories and all that stuff -- may or may not have happened.
It is an instructional way of living. A biggie in the bible -- thou
shalt not kill. And it doesn't say, Unless this guy did this. None of
that crap.

BUT DOESN'T THE BIBLE SAY A WHOLE LOT OF WEIRD STUFF TOO? YOU CAN GO
AROUND KILLING GAY PEOPLE?


No! No, no, no. You've been took in. That has never ever. They
mention gay stuff one time in the fuckin' Old Testament, and I think
it's Leviticus, mentions man-on-man relationships, for a second. It's
like three words. The rest of the bible there's no mention of
homosexuality. Zero, none.

WHAT ABOUT PEARL HARBOR? IF YOU'D BEEN PRESIDENT WHEN PEARL HARBOR
WAS BOMBED, WOULD YOU HAVE SAID, "OH WELL, NEVER MIND, LET'S MOVE
ON" -- OR WOULD YOU HAVE DECLARED WAR?


I probably would have got the Japanese guy who was sitting in front
of me in a headlock, and said, "Motherfucker! What are you doing?"

AND WE'D ALL BE SPEAKING JAPANESE NOW! THAT'D BE GREAT!

(laughs)

I NOTICED AT THE END OF THE END OF "FORGIVENESS," YOU APPEAR TO SEGUE
INTO THE YOUNGBLOODS' "GET TOGETHER"


When we made that record, when we made "Freedom's Road," we learned
every San Francisco -- before we even started -- we learned every San
Francisco song, and I made the decision that anything that had ever
been recorded became mine. There was no, "Hey, does this sound too
much like the Youngbloods?" I didn't care. It's mine. It was theirs
50 years ago; it's mine today. If you listen to "Forgiveness," the
part that makes it sound that way is the bass part, and we had
struggled with that song for about three days and if you put your
headphones on and listen, you can hear me go, "Finally! Great!" It's
on the track. If you put headphones on, you can hear other vocals
going. We had to turn them down, but they're still bleeding into the
guitars, bleeding everywhere! You can hear me talking and giving
instructions throughout the entire record, if you listen real close.
I know where it's at. Right when that part starts, that was the first
time the bass player had played it, and I said, "Great! Finally!" And
we couldn't get it off the record. It was just embedded too much,
because I was screaming it, and I was talking into a PA system! It's
a just a real moment, and we wanted to use that track because that
track felt great, but that part was on there. So I said, "The hell
with it, just leave it on there."

ONE THING THAT BUGS ME ABOUT THE RECORD IS THE HIDDEN TRACK. I THINK
THE RECORD'S ENDED AND I GO TO THE OTHER END OF THE HOUSE AND GET A
SHOCK WHEN I HEAR THIS UNEXPECTED VOICE BLARING OUT OF SOMEWHERE

I think it's great, because the same thing happened to me. That's how
the song ended up there. "Rodeo Clown" really didn't belong on the
record, but it was something that I wanted to say. At first we
thought about all kinds of clever ways -- advance and then it would
go to the front of the record and you could hear that song. And I
thought, "That's too much. Let's just wait about 4 minutes, and then
have the song come in. People will think it's over." It's kind of
like a little P.S. Don't forget about this.

IS GEORGE BUSH THE RODEO CLOWN?

Absolutely

IS HE ALSO THE DEVIL ON "FREEDOM'S ROAD"?

No, no. That's different. Every time you try to do something, "Oh
this will make a positive response," there's always something there
to fuck it up. No matter what it is. If it's a personal thing, or a
big thing, every time I try to put my best foot forward there's
always something there to trip me up. I think that's true in life, in
general. So if you're going to make a statement -- it says in the
song, "Freedom's Road is a promise to the people" -- OK, that's a big
promise. So you're gonna have to go through hell to even remotely
come close to finding that freedom that we speak of in this
constitution that we hold so dearly.

"SHE HAD BLOOD ON HER FACE SO SHE HAD TO GET EVEN" -- THAT'S ABOUT
AMERICA'S POST 9/11 RESPONSE?


Yes.

YOU'VE ALWAYS HAD A SOCIO-POLITICAL BENT. WOULD IT BE FAIR TO SAY
THIS RECORD IS THE MOST OVERTLY POLITICAL OF YOUR CAREER?


I wouldn't say it was political at all. I'd say it was very social.
It's a very social record. I don't think it's political at all, other
than "Rodeo Clown" which, as I said didn't belong on the record.
And "Rodeo Clown" is probably more social than political. I've
written some political songs. I wrote a song called "To Washington."
That was very political. It's on "Trouble No More." He goes to war,
he's doing it for oil and he sends out the National Guard, he wants
to fight with many. That's a political song. It's very direct. All of
these songs, like I said, I was very cognizant of having two levels
to these songs. There's the level, "Hey, we're the Americans." And if
you read between the lines, "Well, maybe not." No, I don't think it's
political, but I would agree that it's a very socially and
individually minded album.

THERE AREN'T ANY LOVE SONGS ON THIS ALBUM. YOU'RE ALL TAPPED OUT?

I'm not very good at those. I never even wrote any in the first
place, and the ones I did write weren't that great. So I just kinda
stay away from it, let somebody else do that.

YOU MENTIONED YOUR WIFE BEFORE, THAT YOU'VE BEEN MARRIED FOR 15
YEARS. DOES IT AMAZE YOU THAT YOU'VE HELD IT TOGETHER SO LONG ON YOUR
THIRD ATTEMPT?


Well, like I said, she keeps my life civilized. It's her. Elaine has
been a very civilized force in my life. We can't even believe we've
been married 15 years. I met her when she was 21. She's 37. It's
been, like, wow! But here's the bad news. I got uglier than fuck, and
she still looks the same. I aged like a son of a bitch and she looks
the same.

YOU MENTIONED TOM PETTY A FEW TIMES. ARE YOU FRIENDS? DO YOU CHAT
OVER THE PHONE?


No, but Petty had a lot to do with the Chevy commercial, and he
doesn't even know it. As I was making this record this summer, is
when Chevrolet started talking to me about using this song, and I was
kinda on the fence about it. But at the same time, Petty had just
released an album called "Highway Companion," that had this beautiful
song on it, which was the first single. It had a kinda Bo Diddley-
type vibe to it. I heard it one time. I said to the guys in the
band, "Oh, this is gonna be big for Tom!" And I was pulling for him.
I never heard that song again. Well, I did hear it one other time. I
had to go to his Web site to hear it. As I'm talking to Chevrolet,
I'm thinking, "Y'know? Nobody's playing this Petty record." People
that go to his concerts are probably hearing the song, but the
general public's not hearing it.

IT'S A PITY. HE GROSSED $30 MILLION ON THE ROAD LAST YEAR, BUT WHAT
PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO SHOWED UP WENT AND BOUGHT HIGHWAY COMPANION?
IT'S KINDA LAME THAT HIS AUDIENCE OF 30- AND 40-YEAR-OLDS DON'T
SUPPORT THE ARTIST


But here's what happens, and I think it's a pretty general thing that
happens to people. Most people think they've got the best Rolling
Stones record ever made already. "I don't need to buy any Rolling
Stones records. I already got Sticky Fingers. I already have Exile on
Main Street. They're not going to make a better record than
that." "Oh, I don't need to buy any more Bob Dylan records. Bob
already made the best record he was gonna make." And I think people
have that attitude towards any artist that has a long career, and the
only way that you bust out of that is by having something that is
really big.

SO WOULD YOU LIKE SOME SORT OF SANTANA-STYLE RESURRECTION WHERE YOU
DO SELL 10 MILLION COPIES?


Yes, yes. That's the only way that people respond to artists who have
got 20, 30, 40 albums out. I'm not even sure that we should be
writing songs other than for ourselves at this point in our career.
If you're going to release a song to radio, then you would hope that
the record company would work it. Of course they're not going to.
Then you have to go look for other means, like Chevrolet or Chase
Manhattan Bank.

DO YOU HAVE ROCK-STAR FRIENDS?

I have guys that I talk to periodically, in the music business. But
basically, I talk to the guys in my band, and I talk to business
people, and I have a couple of actor friends.

OH REALLY? WHO?

I don't want to get into that. I always like talking to them because
they're crazier than I am ... They're (actors in general) the
nuttiest people in the world.

GIVE ME A COUPLE OF ROCK-STAR FRIENDS

I don't even want to get into that. Just a couple of guys who write
songs. I will tell you, one guy is like the best guitar player in the
world. So I talk to him.

JIMMY PAGE? (STEVE CROPPER MIGHT HAVE BEEN A BETTER BET)

No!! I'm not getting into it. We're not playing this game! Move on!

WE TOUCHED BEFORE ON THIS ISSUE. THERE ARE RELIGIOUS REFERENCES IN
ABOUT FIVE SONGS. IS THAT A SIGN OF YOUR INCREASING SPIRITUALITY, OR
THAT WE SHOULD ALL BE PREPARING FOR THE IMPENDING APOCALYPSE?


No, I just think it's a matter of good judgment. Listen, I don't
think a person has to be religious, or has to attend church. But
there does have to be a spiritual side, and there is a spiritual side
in all of us, whether we want to call it that or not. I have found
people who are not spiritual to be kinda boring. They're just not
interested in anything. They're negative all the time. I've got a
couple of friends who would probably say they were spiritual, but
they're just not. They're just bland.

BUT THEN YOU GET PEOPLE WHO ARE OVERLY SPIRITUAL

Then you want to kill yourself. There are people that are over
spiritual, that use religion and use the bible to be judgmental. "I
can be more judgmental by throwing this shit at you." Which is wrong,
wrong, wrong. I have an old girlfriend who I still talk to, and I'm
going to quit talking to her because I just said, "This new religion
that you have found in the last 10 years, you're just so judgmental
about everything." I always tease her, "It's not really the Christian
way, is it, baby?"

THAT'S THE GOOD THING ABOUT HARDCORE CHRISTIANS. YOU CAN THROW THEIR
WORDS BACK AT THEM: "HEY! WHERE'S THE FORGIVENESS?"


They have none. It's be like me, or got to hell.

THERE'S A COUPLE OF SONGS WHERE YOU TALK ABOUT CRYSTAL METH. YOU'RE
PROBABLY ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE WHO TOUCHES ON ONE OF THE BIGGEST
PROBLEMS FACING AMERICA. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU'RE FAMILIAR WITH IN
INDIANA?


Well, you can see it around here. It's sad. It's a very vicious drug
addiction. It's really sad when it gets its needles into younger
folk. You can see 'em age right in front of you. I don't understand.
I say in that song, in "Rural Route," prison is not the place for
these people. Jail is not the place for this. They're not criminals.
These people are lost, sad people. I don't think it shows much
dignity the way that we treat our drug-addicted and mentally ill in
this country. It shows little or no dignity at all. We would just as
soon throw 'em away and hide 'em. Let's just put them in prison, or
kill the sones of bitches. That's the kind of attitude we have.

SPEAKING OF DRUG ADDICTION, HOW MANY CIGARETTES ARE YOU SMOKING THESE
DAYS?


Is that addiction?! I thought that was a habit?!

I INTERVIEWED OZZY OSBOURNE ONCE, AND HE SAID HE'S DONE EVERY DRUG ON
THE PLANET, BUT THE HARDEST ONE TO KICK WAS NICOTINE


I don't even try anymore. I've just surrendered that I am a confirmed
smoker, and I know what the consequences are, and I'm sure that I'll
be fuckin' crying like a baby when I get lung cancer. As a matter of
fact, I'm walking through the house right now to grab a cigarette.

YOU DO HAVE HEALTH ISSUES, SO I GUESS YOU HAVE TO BE PRETTY CAREFUL?

I had a ... heart problem a few years ago (a mild heart attack in
1994). Got that straightened out.

AS LONG AS YOU'RE NOT SUING THE CIGARETTE COMPANIES. IT WILL BE A
PITY...


But I don't like seatbelt laws either.

SO, FINALLY, THIS RECORD. ARE YOU GOING ON TOUR? DO YOU HAVE BIG
COMMERCIAL EXPECTATIONS?


I have no expectations as far as commerciality goes. I've already
succeeded with "Our Country." People know the song, which is what I
wanted people to do. I wanted people to hear the song. They've heard
it. I don't know if it was the best way to present the song to them,
but at least they heard it. I'm not sure "Jack and Diane" was
presented in its best way either, a young John Mellencamp with $5 in
his pocket to make a video. It's hard to say, but people do know the
song ... In the fall, I'm going to try to put together the Freedom's
Road show, which will be me, and hopefully get (album backing
vocalists) Little Big Town to play, and get ("Jim Crow" duet partner)
Joan Baez, maybe a couple of other acts, and then we'll all go out
and all play together. Something different.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2010, 11:54:33 am by walktall2010 » Logged
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