CBS Early Show: For Mellencamp, Itís All About The Songs
(CBS) At 56, John Mellencamp has certainly earned his rock star stripes. He
was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame this year, has 22 albums under
his belt, and a number of top 10 hits over his more than 30-year career.
With his new album, "Life Death Love and Freedom," Mellencamp says he wants to
focus on songwriting.
"It's in the American song book tradition," Mellencamp told Early Show co-anchor
Harry Smith. You know, going back to the '40s and the '30s and looking at what
material was written about then as opposed to what people are used to hearing
songs written about now."
Mellencamp said that he wrote all the songs in the album in around two weeks.
"I got up and wrote," he said. "Sometimes I would get a couple songs in a day
and sometimes I would get nothing. But that's a very short amount of time to
write that many songs."
The songs are both political ("Jena" is about the Jena 6 trial in Louisiana) and
introspective ("Don't Need This Body" is about growing old).
Mellencamp said his choice of subject reflects a certain maturity.
"A lot of people think this is a dark record but it's really about life," he
said. "You can't talk about these things unless you have had a certain amount of
Still living in Indiana, Mellencamp's music has a quintessentially heartland
American flavor. Conservative politicians, like John McCain, have appropriated
Mellencamp songs like "Our Country" and "Pink Houses" for their campaign events.
Mellencamp, on the other hand, supports Barack Obama.
"Well, conservatives are allowed to play whatever they like," Mellencamp said.
"They should know it's coming from a very liberal person."
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