The Music Blog: The Great American Songwriter

I know. I really do. You see this title and then you read the blog and the first thing that is going to run through your head is that you disagree and you will come up with more than a few other American songwriters who you think are better. You won’t be wrong either. In fact whoever you are thinking about I may have already blogged about or am going to but just haven’t gotten there yet.

John Mellencamp, as the great American songwriter is going to rub you wrong. So maybe you don’t like his politics but I am not writing a political blog. Oh by the way I get really frustrated when I see people complaining that certain stars should keep their mouths shut about politics that no one wants to hear it and they should stick with acting or singing or whatever. This frustrates me because they live here too, and some of them were born in other countries and now make this country their home. They have a right to share their political opinions and if they use their own popularity so what. You would do the same. Both sides do it. I am a big fan of Tim Allen. I have loved him since his stand up days, since Home Improvement and I love his current show Last Man Standing. I don’t like his politics and I believe he is wrong but I love how he presents those arguments on his show and he has other characters who have the opposite position and they cover things with humor which says a lot about Tim Allen the person.

See what you did? You got me off on a political rant. It’s your fault. This is about John Cougar or John Cougar Mellencamp or John Mellencmp or whatever name he goes by next. Mellencamp has always written songs about small town life, about growing up in this country of ours, about Midwest values, the heart of the country. He has shared through his music the ugly truth of the plight of the small or mid-size farmer in this country. He tells a good story. He sings songs about his wife and about his kids about himself. He performs all over the world but he is singing songs to me and you.

My interest in Mellencamp and my eventual love for him wasn’t always there. In fact the first song I remember is Jack and Diane and I would say that is one of my least favorite songs ever from any artist. I don’t like it Sam I am, I don’t like Jack and Diane. Needless to say I didn’t jump on the John Cougar train. Another of his songs rubs me equally wrong, ROCK In the USA. It makes me want to gag, spew vomit. So I struggled with him and it took me a while to warm up. Then I heard Jackie Brown and just fell in love with the song. I heard Paper and Fire and loved the song. I heard Rain on the Scarecrow and fell in love. Like I always do I started to explore and what I found I loved minus Jack and Diane and ROCK in the USA. Key West Intermezzo became one of mine and my wife’s favorite songs. I love that song and when my son wanted to make his first cd and we were putting songs together it pulled on my heart strings when he sang the song because he didn’t know the title. Like many artists I have blogged about I now have the vast majority of Mellencamp’s studio albums. I started with a few, bought a few more and then ultimately I decided that I wanted the rest. He is an artist that matters to me whether he matters to you or not I don’t know. I find him a lot like Tom Petty. I don’t mean the music they play although I believe both try and sing to that everyman, to those values that make up most of us. My point is that you don’t realize how many songs Mellencamp has that were hits, that are songs that you love until you sit down and hear a really good collection of greatest hits. In that way Petty and Mellencamp are very similar. You could probably say the same about Springsteen or Neil Young. If they didn’t appeal to a lot of people they wouldn’t have 50 year careers. That I can get behind, well except for Jack and Diane.

Mike out

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