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John Mellencamp Says Country Music ‘Caught Up’ With Him

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John Mellencamp feels that country music has finally caught up with him — not the other way around. During a recent chat with Rolling Stone, Mellencamp was asked about how he defines his relationship with the “country-music world,” to which he replied, “Hold it — how do country music people define their relationship with me? I was doing this long before they were doing it — Scarecrow, Big Daddy, (The) Lonesome Jubilee. So, I didn’t go to country. They caught up with me. I hate to sound like Little Richard, when he kept going, ‘I invented rock n’ roll!’ But if you ask Keith Urban or Kenny Chesney what inspired them, they’ll tell you me.”

Just released is Mellencamp’s 23rd studio set, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies. The collection, which prominently features tourmate Carlene Carter on five songs, includes her original composition “Damascus Road” — as well as Mellencamp duetting with country star Martina McBride on the track, “Grandview,” which was started back in the 1990’s by Mellencamp’s cousin, Bobby Clark, before Mellencamp finished the tune.

With over 40 years in business, we asked John Mellencamp how he sees himself and the state of his career in the present day: “Fortunate — but unlucky. Unlucky enough to be a rock star. Y’know, you turn on the radio and you hear ‘Pink Houses’ for the 9,000th time, and you assume that’s all that John Mellencamp does. Led Zeppelin was a lot more than ‘Stairway To Heaven,’ but, y’know, that’s what you hear. Y’know, it’s not just me — y’know, the Rolling Stones are always more than ‘Honky Tonk Women.’ Bob Seger was always more than, y’know, ‘Night Moves,’ but sorry — that’s all you hear all the time. Of course you and I know that rock is over. We’ve had our 40 years. And so now, it’s just total freedom to me. I don’t have to listen to anybody (laughs), I don’t do — y’know, do exactly what I wanna do.”

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Photo Courtesy of Marc Hauser

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