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« on: March 13, 2011, 12:19:12 pm »

Cougar's just 'plain old boy'
Del Rio News-Herald, October 8, 1982

Not all rock stars dye their hair purple and bite the heads of porcupines between numbers. There are a few who are normal folks, give or take a quirk.

One such is billed as John Cougar his name being one of the aforementioned quirks.

Really, he's plain old John Mellencamp from Bloomington, Ind. "me and Hoagy Carmichael are the only people who came from Bloomington" and he still lives back home in Indiana, despite his fame and fortune.

"I stay home and try to be normal," says Cougar. "I'll try to stay away from the rock 'n' roll lifestyle."

He separates his musicmaking from the rest of his life. They are two distinct parts of his world. He enjoys them both, but they don't mix.

"There is a time to work," he says, "and a time to live."

His singing and performing constitute his job. And he does his job well, but that's all it is a job. It is not to be confused with his life.

He says he grew up with a song on his lips but never really thought that he could, make a living that way. To understand that, he says, you have to understand how a kid from Bloomington, Ind. would look at the world of entertainment stars.

"When I was a kid," he says, "I thought movie stars and record stars were from outer space. I grew up in a town that was like the town in 'Last Picture Show.' My idols when I was growing up were the high school football stars. I couldn't identify with the rock stars they had nothing to do with us."

He sang with a soul band when he was a teenager, but he says that was "basically to get girls." He went on and got a degree in communications from Vincennes University.

"I never studied music," he says, "because I've got a theory -- a guy who has a degree in something can't do it. A guy who has a degree in literature can't write a book. Education has stifled him. But the uneducated know no bounds. My favorite singers are untrained. My favorite playwright Tennessee Williams is untrained. And so I didn't train, either."

The one thing he may study, however, is the business end of the music industry. He says there may come a day when he decides he doesn't want to sing anymore, but he thinks on that day he'll simply segue into the behind-the-scenes area of music. And he wants to be trained for that day.

"I lost $13,000 last week," Cougar says, "that was because it costs me so much to stage my show on the road. But off the record I've got going for me now, I'd probably not have to work again if I'm smart. And I'm planning to be smart."

That record is his Riva album, "American Fool," and the hit singles, "Hurts So Good" and "Jack and Diane." He's had hit records before singles and albums but nothing to approach the magnitude of these.

Cougar's trademark is the earthy, everyman simplicity of his lyrics. As he puts it, "I write and sing about the real insignificant parts of life, like just walking around."

"To say that I'm a writer," he says, "would be pretentious. I really don't have anything much to say."

And, when he performs, he follows through on that message, or lack of message.

"In person," he says, "I want my audience to have a good time and go home as tired as I am. I run around and dance and laugh and cuss 'em. My biggest fear is that some day I'll get thrown in jail for cussing on stage."

So he is a singer/performer without delusions of grandeur.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2011, 11:55:24 pm by walktall2010 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2011, 08:20:55 am »

Love the line "There is a time to work, and a time to live"  could be the words to a song!  Thanks for posting this article.
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