04/14/2009 - From January 17, 1983 comes this vintage clip with John and the great Mitch Ryder duetting on "B.I.G.T.I.M.E.," as performed that night on the American Music Awards show.|
The song was the lead track on Ryder's 1983 comeback album "Never Kick a Sleeping Dog, which John produced at "The Shack" studio near Seymour, Indiana, in Jackson County (he was credited as "Little Bastard"-same as he was as producer of his own albums in the 1980s). John also sang backup vocals on several songs including "B.I.G.T.I.M.E." and "Come Again"; legendary 1960s English vocalist Marianne Faithful joined him in singing with Mitch on "A Thrill's A Thrill."
"Never Kick a Sleeping Dog" was released on Mellencamp's label Riva/Polygram and utilized the same location and setup that he would use to record his classic album "Uh-Huh" in July, 1983. So it is quite similar in sound to both "Uh-Huh" and "American Fool,&quo Read More
04/08/2009 - "America's Heart and Soul," Blacklight Films' 2004 documentary about ordinary Americans whose lives are really quite extraordinary, will be rereleased starting April 17th with an exclusive 10-day engagement in three test markets-Bloomington, Ind., Madison Wis., and Burlington, Vt. The main title song is John's "The World Don't Bother Me None," which he wrote exclusively for the film. Director/producer/cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg hails it as "an anthem for a new beginning."|
"We reached out to John because he embodies America's grassroots," says Schwartzberg. "His music certainly resonates with hardworking Americans and epitomizes the best in the common man. The film is all about recognizing remarkable 'ordinary people'--everyone from a dairy farmer in Vermont to a bike messenger in New York City to jazz musicians in New Orleans, oil well fighters and a blind mountain climber. The real kind of heart and soul of America. In these challe Read More
04/01/2009 - Our latest installment of Out There in the Distance Somewhere.. Maybe (OTDS/M) brings a little more info on the new album we hinted at in the first OTDS/M.|
So work has definitely begun on the album, which has a working title of "No Better Than This." Not only has John written 30 new songs (and he's writing more), but he and Andy York have spent a week in and out of the studio cutting demos for 20 of them.
As previously reported, John intends to record the album in old buildings like the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson recorded blues classics like "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Crossroad Blues." Many of these are turn-of-the-century hotels built to accommodate railroad passengers-and are now sadly dilapidated.
John does hope that the album, which is being produced by T Bone Burnett, will be out next January or February. He has written a song titled "No Better Than This," but is not sure whether it will mak Read More
03/31/2009 - John's first major interview of the year aired March 31st on NPR's "Fresh Air" program. The segment was entitled "John Mellencamp, The Modern Mortal."|
The approximately forty minute interview-John's first substantial Q&A since the election-was conducted by "Fresh Air" Host Terry Gross. John appeared via digital line from his Belmont Mall studio and performed solo acoustic renditions of several classics, songs from his latest album "Life, Death, Love and Freedom," and a few of his favorite songs from his youth.
His performance of "Early Bird Café," which he sang at the end when Gross
asked him to play a song he did not write, has already generated supportive web
response, particularly from those who recognized a relatively obscure s Read More
03/30/2009 - John's first major interview of the year is scheduled to run on NPR's "Fresh Air" program Tuesday, March 31st.|
The interview-John's first substantial Q&A since the election-was conducted by "Fresh Air" Host Terry Gross. It will include some solo acoustic performances from his Belmont Mall studio.
One of public radio's most popular programs, the Peabody Award winning "Fresh Air" is a weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues. It is produced at WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and heard by nearly 4.5 million listeners on over more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network.
There is a possibility that John's interview could be pushed back to run on a different day depending on breaking news, but it is expected to air this week. We will post Read More
03/22/2009 - Over the last few years, we have all witnessed the decline of the music business, highlighted by finger-pointing and blame directed against record companies, artists, internet file sharing and any other theories for which a case could be made. We've read and heard about the "good old days" and how things used to be. People remember when music existed as an art that motivated social movements. Artists and their music flourished in back alleys, taverns and barns until, in some cases, a popular groundswell propelled it far and wide. These days, that possibility no longer seems to exist. After 35 years as an artist in the recording business, I feel somehow compelled, not inspired, to stand up for our fellow artists and tell that side of the story as I perceive it. Had the industry not been decimated by a lack of vision caused by corporate bean counters obsessed with the bottom line, musicians would have been able to stick with creating music rather than trying to market it as well.|
During th Read More
03/19/2009 - Here are a few projects that John's working on. But the way things work in the real world of the music business-or any business, really--they may or may not come to pass as conceived-if at all. So you didn't read it here first!|
1) The "A Ride Back Home" video: Actually, this one's almost a certainty. The clip for "A Ride Back Home" has been shot with guest vocalist Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, and will likely be viewable shortly online and hopefully at CMT and VH1. It was lensed by the same team that did the "Rain on the Scarecrow" video-including director Jamie Andrews-and has the same style and feel.
2) Summer Tour: A special tour is in the works, slated to start in early July and run through the end of August. It will play at minor league baseball fields, with John sharing top billing with two other major artists.
3) New Album: During the tour, John hopes to cut a new album, "as American folk as I've ever be Read More
Woodrow (Woody) Baker died Tuesday at his home in Elnora, Indiana.
He was 94.
Baker was a Navy veteran of World War II, a member of the V.F.W. and American
Legion. He was a welder for over 50 years.
He was also the working man sitting next to a much younger John Mellencamp at
the Midway Tavern in Elnora on the cover of his 1987 album "The Lonesome
"He was proud of it. He bragged about it," his son--who's also known as
Woody-told the Bloomington Herald. "It was a pretty amazing thing. I still have
younger guys, co-workers, come up to me and say, 'Isn't that your dad on the
cover of 'The Lonesome Jubilee'? They just can't believe it. It's just something
that has never gone away."
According to the Herald, the bartender was asked if he knew an older, working Read More
03/13/2009 - The death last week of Jimmy Boyd has brought renewed attention to his signature
hit “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” which John covered for the first volume
of the “A Very Special Christmas” compilations. The set, which came out in 1989,
featured a spirited Cajun-flavored take on the classic tune, which Boyd took to
the top of the Billboard charts in 1952.|
Turns out the song was commissioned by the Neiman Marcus department store chain
to promote its annual Christmas card. Boyd’s hit, which the New York Times said
he recorded when “he was a skinny, red-headed kid of 12,” was banned by the
Roman Catholic Church in Boston, its claim being that it mixed sex with
Christmas. Boyd was apparently widely photographed meeting with the Archdiocese
to explain the song! The ban was subsequently lifted the following Christmas,
when the recording again topped the charts. It has since sold over 60 million
copies; to commemorate the first three million, Columbia Records gave Boyd, who
lov Read More
02/26/2009 - CMT Insider News has a two-minute report on the making of “A Ride Back Home,”
the latest video from John’s “Life Death Love and Freedom” album. |
In it, John discusses the concept behind the album, with guest vocalist Karen
Fairchild of country group Little Big Town noting that “A Ride Back Home”
concerns “a man contemplating his life.”
John explains that he wrote the song while thinking about the human condition
and the “generally bad” nature of humanity. A lighter moment finds him hoping
that viewers will get to see more of the beautiful Fairchild: “I don’t know
who’d want to see an old guy like me!” he jokes.
He also distinguishes the video from his recent political-themed clips in
relating that the new one returns to the “more traditional” John Mellencamp
video style--as he told Mellencamp.com last week.
Click Read More
02/23/2009 - Peter Cooper • Staff Writer |
Bloomington, Ind., isn't much of a destination spot in the winter, except for
basketball players looking to beat up on the disappointing 2008-09 version of
the state university's Hoosier hoopsters.
Yet Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild found herself up in Bloomington last week,
shooting a video with John Mellencamp for a song called "A Ride Back Home."
The song is from John's Life, Death, Love and Freedom album, produced by T-Bone
Burnett (who also produced the Grammy-winning Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
album), and Karen features prominently as a harmony vocalist on the album. "A
Ride Back Home" is a duet, and Mellencamp's peeps are hoping the video will
receive airplay on GAC and CMT.
"I would love it if country radio would play that," Karen said. "The song is one
of my favorites on the record. John says it's about loneliness. For me, it seems
like a song about a man contemplating his life and asking the Read More
02/17/2009 - By David Lindquist|
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In a 12-pew church with a small graveyard outside the door,
John Mellencamp sang about death this afternoon.
Technically, he didn't sing but mouthed the lyrics to "A Ride Back Home" several
times during the making of a music video at Beck Chapel on the campus of Indiana
Classes were in session on Presidents Day, allowing students to pause between
classes and catch a glimpse of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
"Mr. Mellencamp, can we get a picture," called out one student during a break in
When the singer barked "Take it," he managed to be cantankerous and good-natured
in the same breath.
It was a day of minimal agitation for 57-year-old Mellencamp, who worked with
camera, lighting and sound specialists -- all veterans of man Read More
02/17/2009 - Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News|
Bloomington - There was a Hoosier homecoming for John Mellencamp Monday, who
spent the day making a music video on the IU campus.
The low-key production took place in the middle of the day at Indiana
University, but nothing was closed down, no roads, no classrooms, just a tiny
chapel next to the student union. In fact, many students at the university were
oblivious to the rock legend standing just a few feet away from them in the
heart of campus.
Inside Beck Chapel, Mellencamp and country singer Karen Fairchild lip-synched
the words to "A Ride Back Home" from Mellencamp's new album - "Life, Death, Love
"It's always an honor to be asked to be part of this album, so to be a part of
the video is even a better deal," Fairchild said. "She sang on like half the
album with me in this fashion, so it just made perfect sense."
During concerts, Mellencamp has stopped his song and asked the au Read More
02/17/2009 - By Mike Leonard |
Cozy Beck Chapel has seen thousands of weddings since it was built in 1956.
On Monday, it was the setting for a funeral of sorts — the filming of a video
for the gospel-tinged song “A Ride Back Home” from John Mellencamp’s current
album, “Life Death Love and Freedom.”
“But I don’t see it as sad,” said Elaine Mellencamp, John’s wife and executive
producer of the video. “It’s more of a timeless, positive spiritual message.
When I look at this chapel, I think of June Carter and the Carter family up
The song clearly embraces a gospel theme, with the singer musing over a hard
life that has come to an end and asking forgiveness in the line: “Hey Jesus, can
you give me a ride back home?”
“There actually was a conversation about taking it to gospel radio,” Mellencamp
said as he took a break out Read More