TRocking and singing rapturously, but accommodating bitter verses: that is what distinguishes Bruce Springsteen as well as John Mellencamp. If they then do that in a duet, as in the song “Wasted Days” that was released a few days ago (which thematically ties in with the Eagles ballad “Wasted Time”), you can get sad when it says: “How many summers” still remain? How many days are lost in vain? “
While Springsteen is always on the air anyway, John Mellencamp has only recently been heard from at longer intervals. In 2017 the album “Sad Clowns and Hillbillies” was released, which was already clearly colored blue with pieces like “Mobile Blue” and “Indigo Sunset” – but Mellencamp’s blue is usually still a warm color. So, no matter how bad it is for his own health, for his country, for the world, he can never completely deny an all-American optimism in the charisma.
After all, he has known since 1982 from the refrain of his best-known and best piece, “Jack and Diane”, whose self-description as “lil ‘ditty”, that is, a little song, “Life goes on / Long after the thrill of living is gone “. The sentence would also be almost too sad if it weren’t borne by the jolly, fiddly-folk roots music, which at Mellencamp has come to the fore after its beginnings in (glam) rock and which all of them are happy again in old age seem to remember.
Whoever wants to pay tribute to Mellencamp should completely forget, however, how hard he sometimes did in rock music: with “Crumblin ‘Down”, “Cherry Bomb”, the great “Martha Say” or in the sweaty version of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night”, which he recorded in 1994 with singer and bassist Me’shell Ndegeocello.
What we would like from John J. (formerly “Cougar”) Mellencamp, who will be seventy years old today, Thursday: that he will once again tie in with his characteristic folk rock sound of the late eighties and early nineties, which he and Mike did Wanchic and Lisa Germano at the Echo Park Studio in his home state of Indiana. That would by no means be wasted time.