Rolling Stone Magazine: Mellencamp Preps Rarities, Covers For Winter Theater Tour

January 20, 2011 Issue - By Patrick Doyle

Wild Nights: “If you’re coming to hear the greatest hits, don’t even come,” says John Mellencamp, who will kick off a 33-date run on February 3rd in Lowell, Massachusetts. For his first theater tour since 1997, Mellencamp is prepping a two-hour-plus show that includes a solo-acoustic miniset and a country-blues combo, before finishing with a full band. “I have zero interest in walking into an arena and banging out those hits again,” he says. “I’m 59 years old, and I look fucking ridiculous.” Instead, he’s busting out rarities like 1989’s “Jackie Brown” and covering Son House. Even his biggest songs are getting reworked: “Authority Song” will get a rockabilly makeover, and “Jack and Diane” has become a country-swing tune.

Big Screen: Instead of bringing along a warm-up band, Mellencamp will be screening a documentary, It's About You, that was shot on the road during his tour with Bob Dylan in 2009. “I like the idea of people walking into the theater and a movie is playing,” he says. “It’ll be like those old Dick Clark Caravan of Stars revues.”

What’s Next: The singer’s decade-in-the-works musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County – a collaboration with Stephen King – will premier at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in 2012. Liv Ullman is set to direct, Meg Ryan may star, and the soundtrack is nearly done. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the LP will include tracks written by Mellencamp and sung by Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Costello and Rosanne Cash. “For Americana music,” says Mellencamp, “it’s about as different as Sgt. Pepper was for rock music.”