John Mellencamp—Small Town
Earlier this week the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its inductee list for ceremonies planned in March of 2008.
Making the top of the crop of Hall inductees this year will be Madonna, Leonard Cohen, The Ventures, The Dave Clark Five and Indiana’s John Mellencamp.
Tonight, on the Music club we’ll go back to the days of singing of small towns and those that live in them.
Mellencamps career has spanned some twenty five years now, from the early days of Jack and Dianne through his most popular of recordings Lonesome Jubilee and Scarecrow, epic interpretations of life in America’s heartland, filled with hope and heartbreak.
He started out the product of an overzealous record exec who christened him Johnny Cougar, a moniker he would downplay and eventually rid himself of as his music became more popular and he gained more control over his career. Always more about the music and the song than the slick marketing, he shed the Cougar skin gladly able to finally just play his chronicles of America under his own terms.
Twelve more recordings would follow the Lonesome Jubilee sessions, some much more successful than others, occasionally straying from that original mid America outlook. The latest recording is called Freedom’s road, and it is there that he has returned to the familiar themes of Americana that won him fans through the eighties and into the nineties.
Mellencamp who is nothing if not a workhorse when it comes to his music is currently on a North American tour taking him across the continent to sing to the converted and hopefully to bring more believers into the tent.
His Canadian swing begins on February 1st in Montreal and he’ll be barnstorming across the nation until February 19th in Victoria. Two other BC dates help him cover the province with shows in Kelowna on the 17th and Vancouver on the 18th.
He’ll take a break March 10th for a stop in New York City, to take his place in the Cleveland Hall of Fame.
His popularity stems from his folksy imagery of America harkening back to an era where the stories in the music were far more important than the marketing or the imagery of the record companies.
While others on the list have their own major accomplishments to bring to the podium, Mellencamp will be the populist choice and as we have learned over the years, the fads come and go but the ability to weave a tale will never be something that people will tire of.