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Super Bowl? Don’t Do It, John!
02.03.2009 - Super Bowl? Don’t Do It, John!

An intriguing fan post on John’s Myspace page yesterday from “Adam” asks fellow Mellenheads to join his group, “Official Movement for John Mellencamp to play the Super Bowl Halftime Show.”

Well count me out! After watching Springsteen’s half-time show, and especially those of the Stones, McCartney, Prince and Janet Jackson that preceded it, no way do I want to see John sell himself out to big-time corporate entertainment.

No, I don’t begrudge Springsteen, et. al. for doing it. Indeed, Springsteen virtually and rightly echoed John’s rationale for the Chevy commercial in explaining his decision to do the Super Bowl show, i.e., he had a new record out and there’s no longer any place for music by artists of his generation to get exposure. But what does bug me about these half-time shows is the extreme show-biz factor: big-time performance shtick mixed with fireworks and an obviously fake on-field audience that looks like the typical shills out of the MTV Awards, who probably don’t even know the songs, all with fists and lighters in the air and all herded off the field immediately after the show. Not at all does it lend itself to real music with a real message.

In other words, “Pink Houses” works fine at the Lincoln Memorial, but it is silly in the context of Super Bowl half-time glitz. Than again, nothing galvanizes an arena/stadium crowd like the opening guitar notes to “Pink Houses” or “Authority Song” or any number of Mellencamp hits that would sound sensational at half-time with or without the shtick.

Of course, this presumes that John would in fact be asked to play the Super Bowl, and I do believe this is entirely likely. After all, who’s left among mainstream pop acts that resonate with the classic rock target demo suggested by previous choices? And besides, Tom Petty, who did it last year, proves that artists of substance whose concert acts are not so reliant on showmanship can still command the biggest TV stage.

But really, what they should do is go back to the first Super Bowls, when—if I remember correctly—they just had high school or college marching bands. They should celebrate the best marching bands in the country and recognize young musicians at a time when music education is so necessary—and neglected.

Oh, by the way, the post beneath Adam’s on John’s Myspace page was also noteworthy. It was from a “Ms. Mojo,” a self-described “small town Indiana girl” who grew up on John’s music and lived in a “little pink house.”

“They used to tell me that maybe you wrote that song for me,” she wrote. Maybe so, Ms. Mojo. But I’m not going to ask.

-- jim bessman

[Editors note: Shortly after this post, rollingstone.com came out with a piece entitled "After Bruce Springsteen, Who's Next for the Super Bowl? Following The Who, Bon Jovi and AC/DC (and ahead of Metallica, Van Halen, Nickelback, Green Day, Foo Fighters and Jay-Z), John came in at 4/1 odds. "Heartland rock would play great on the most American stage of them all," noted Stone, in stating the pros. The cons? "He's done the World Series... Would the NFL double dip?"]
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