American Songwriter: The 18 Best John Mellencamp Quotes

American Songwriter by Jacob Uitti

To many, singer-songwriter John Mellencamp is an American hero.

He is a co-founder of Farm Aid, he is an award-winning artist and his voice is as raspy as a run through a cornfield in your birthday suit.

But what about Mellencamp’s thoughts on life and love and the craft of music outside of his lyrics and songwriting? What did he have to say about the business he’s in or the philanthropy he’s been a part of for the past few decades?

Well, that’s precisely what we’re set to dive into here today. So, without further ado, let’s investigate the best 18 John Mellencamp quotes.

1. “I’ve seen beautiful art on the sides of buildings. I’ve seen beautiful art in museums. I’ve seen beautiful art in galleries. Beautiful art is everywhere.”

2. “For me to pretend I’m the keeper of the small town mentality or that’s all I’m interested in is wrong.”

3. “This cycle of, make a record, tour, has been going on for 20 years now. I don’t even know why I do it sometimes. Do I need more money? Do I need more platinum and gold records? The only thing I can think of is ego.”

4. “I believe in something, even if it’s just me.”

5. “My best songs come from a place outside myself.”

6. “If I laugh a couple of times a day, I’m doing good. People think it’s their God-given right to be happy, and it’s just not. It’s something you’ve got to work at. I like to paint the human condition, and the human condition is not smiles and happy people.”

7. “One quality of a good songwriter is to be vague. A vague notion, a vague image, but enough to give the listener the opportunity to make more out of what’s being said than is there. That’s the great thing about Bob Dylan’s songs: We the listeners have made more out of them than he ever intended.”

8. “Regret should be handled swiftly, and you shouldn’t hold onto it. People spend their entire lives regretting what they didn’t do and what they should’ve done. Hey, man, you did what you did.”

9. “When you live in hysteria, people start thinking emotionally.”

10. “If you hide information from people, don’t want people to see the Ten Commandments or don’t want people to hear about Darwin, aren’t we hiding things that we know from our future generations? I just think that that’s incorrect.”

11. “I want my paintings to look like they were found in a garage. If they get a scratch or a hole in them, it just becomes part of the painting.”

12. “The CD, it should be noted, was born out of greed. It was devised to prop up record sales on the expectation of people replenishing their record collections with CDs of albums they had already purchased.”

13. “I used to think that eating healthy was ordering a fish sandwich at McDonald’s.”

14. “What is there to be afraid of? The worst thing that can happen is you fail. So what? I failed at a lot of things. My first record was horrible.”

15. “I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is.”

16. “It sounds funny, but I always try to keep an open mind about what I’m writing about. Sometimes I squeak my opinions in there, but generally, I don’t. I try to be objective about things that I’m writing about.”

17. “My grandmother made sure that I went to church every Sunday. And she’d come over and pick us boys up, and we would go to the Nazarene church. And back then, that was about as close to heaven as I ever got, because just the time to be able to spend with her, and she was very, very religious.”

18. “‘Jack & Diane’ was originally about race. I was playing nightclubs, and I was seeing new American couples, mixed-race couples. I thought it was cool. The song was my effort to make a song about that, but of course, the record-company guy didn’t like it.”