Bruce Springsteen joins John Mellencamp on stage for 'Pink Houses' at NJPAC

Asbury Park Press By Chris Jordan  Watch the video HERE 

John Mellencamp delivered a Jersey special March 10 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

He brought Bruce Springsteen out to sing “Pink Houses.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, one of the greatest songwriters  of our time, Mr. Bruce Springsteen!” said Mellencamp to a Boss-sized ovation.

Springsteen, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, joined in on the chorus and picked up the second verse.

“Oh, but ain't that America for you and me? Ain't that America, something to see,” sang Springsteen and Mellencamp.

Fiddle player Lisa Germano gave Springsteen a playful tap on the leg after her solo on the song.

Springsteen and Mellencamp have not been strangers in recent years. Springsteen sang on the track “Wasted Days” from the 2021 Mellencamp album, “Strictly A One-Eyed Jack.” The two performed the song at the November Stand Up for Heroes Bob Woodruff Foundation veterans benefit in New York City.

Springsteen and Mellencamp made headlines when they hung out together in Bay Head in 2021. Mellencamp will be honored in April by the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University with an American Music Honors award. Springsteen is a presenter at the ceremony.

Mellencamp's NJPAC show was part of the Indiana native's Live and In Person 2024 Tour. The show featured spoken interludes, the hits, and some unexpected interplay between Mellencamp and the audience. A solo performance of the classic “Jack and Diane” had to be reeled in due to an overly enthusiastic crowd.

“You guys (the audience) went from the first verse to the chorus and you forgot the second chorus” playfully chided Mellencamp. “I was 27 years old when I wrote this and I spent all afternoon working on the second chorus and we're going to sing the second chorus before I'm done!”

That was just fine with the crowd. Mellencamp and his six-member band performed classics like “Small Town,” “Rain on the Scarecrow,” “Cherry Bomb” and “Hurts So Good.” The show was not a concert per se, but a “performance,” Mellencamp emphasized. 

A surprise was a recording of acting legend Joanne Woodward reciting Mellencamp's “The Real Life” lyrics to live musical accompaniment. Mellencamp said the 93-year old Woodward, a good friend, cannot speak and is “very ill.”

The Golden Age of Hollywood moment was in keeping with a theme of the night. Mellencamp and his band came on the stage, adorned with movie star mannequins, after more than 20 minutes of clips from six Hollywood classics: “The Fugitive Kind,” “The Misfits,” “Giant,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Hud” (with Woodward's late husband, Paul Newman) and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The scenes represented characters on the fringes of society, but not without a backstreet nobility.

They shared a renegade spirit with Mellencamp, the heartland rocker who scaled the heights of music superstardom but has kept his maverick stance. The 72-year old, who smoked a cigarette walking on stage, is forever the iconoclast and seeker of simple pleasures.

“Get out,” said Mellencamp toward the end of “Longest Days” in the middle of the show, “and get some sunshine on your face.”