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John Mellencamp on why he doesn’t play arenas anymore: “It was about being a human jukebox”

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John Mellencamp is currently on his Live and In Person tour of theaters, but if fans go expecting him to play all the hits, they will be disappointed. 

Mellencamp tells The New York Times he’s “not a nostalgic person,” noting, “I could do a whole show of hits if I wanted to, but I don’t.” He adds, “That’s one reason I quit playing arenas and playing outdoors. It wasn’t about music — it was about being a human jukebox.”

Of course the show isn’t devoid of Mellencamp classics, and he’s even started playing his first real hit, “Hurt So Good,” again after dropping it from his set for the past 25 years.

He says he’s added it back because “it has a whole new meaning to me.” Regarding the lyric, “When I was a young boy, I said, ‘Put away those young boy ways,'” he shares, “I was a kid when I wrote it, but as an older gentleman, it makes sense.”

And speaking of nostalgia, Mellencamp also talks a little about the early days of his career, which included getting kicked off tours opening for KISS, REO Speedwagon and Rainbow

“I got kicked off every tour I was on. My band and I were terrible, but we were better than KISS,” he says. “I was a young kid, full of energy, and the reviews said, ‘John Cougar blew the place up last night.’ Gene Simmons would look at me like he wanted to kill me.” 

Mellencamp brings his Live and In Person tour to New York’s Beacon Theatre for a three-night stand starting Tuesday, June 6. A complete list of dates can be found at

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