RSS Feed News
AARP: John Mellencamp: What I Know Now
05.31.2017 -

John Mellencamp: What I Know Now
The roots rocker, 65, meditates on songwriting, aging, and his good and not-so-good habits
by Edna Gundersen, AARP The Magazine, June/July 2017|

The rock great reflects on his career, art and relationships.

Untortured artist
At this point, songwriting is the easiest thing. I wrote "Easy Target," a song on my new album, while I was painting. It took eight minutes. The melody came right along with the words. I didn't even have a guitar. I just sang it into my phone.

The granny boost
Growing up, my grandmother took care of me. I was very fragile because I was born with spina bifida. She told me over and over: "Buddy, you are the luckiest, handsomest, most talented boy in the world." She's the reason I'm here. A lot of guys do what I do because they have a poor self-image. They need the applause. I don't need that.

Small-town boy in the city
I was some hillbilly kid from Indiana. I went to New York to study painting and happened to get a record deal. When MTV happened, we all became movie stars. I couldn't leave the house. It went on for 10 or 12 years.

That famous little ditty
I was young, but I knew what I was doing the night I wrote "Jack & Diane." Everyone knows that song. Everybody city, country, gravel road, igloo it's their song. That's magic. I play it every night.

His day job
Painting is harder on me than being onstage. I stand 8 or 10 hours a day. I used to consider it a hobby, but now I don't. It's hard to be taken seriously because I'll always be considered a celebrity painter. Being a rock star has been a pain in the ass all around.

Angry young men
Here's what I told my son Speck, who's always fighting everybody and fighting himself. I said, "I know you consider yourself a dangerous young man, but I'm a dangerous old man." A dangerous old man can use anger to his advantage. He's cagier and smarter. He knows what he's doing. A young man just has outbursts.

Good and bad habits
I lift weights, and I run, but my exercise is not about vanity. I work out because I smoke. If I'm going to afford myself the luxury of smoking, I'd better do something to offset it.

Men will be boys
Girls, never trust a man under 40 because he's still a boy. I've met thousands of tough guys, thousands of nice guys; they're all the same.

The myth of happiness
Happiness is a fleeting moment of a day. It's not a state of being. If you're happy all the time, something's wrong with you. We are put on this earth to toil and to make things. Making the world a better place is not a happy job.

What's left
I intend to make my ending good. I'm hoping it's one of those long, lingering deathbed conversions. A lot of people go, "Oh, I hope I just die quick." Not me. I need time to put things right.

Tags: AARP

There are currently no comments posted yet.





Email Updates! Home Powered by BubbleUp,Ltd. John Mellencamp on John Mellencamp on Wikipedia John Mellencamp on John Mellencamp on John Mellencamp on John Mellencamp on John Mellencamp on John Mellencamp on