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The program aired on December 11, and also featured an in-depth documentary tracing Mellencamp's roots. Crow joined Mellencamp on stage to duet on "My Sweet Love" during the last seven shows.
Mellencamp participated in a tribute concert for Pete Seeger 's 90th birthday on May 3, at Madison Square Garden in New York City which raised funds for an environmental organization founded by Seeger to preserve and protect the Hudson River. In the summer of , Mellencamp embarked on a tour of minor league ballparks with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson that ran from July 2 — August Mellencamp recorded the album using a Ampex portable recording machine and only one microphone, requiring all the musicians to gather together around the mic.
The album was recorded in mono. Mellencamp wrote over 30 songs for the record only 13 made the final cut , and he wrote one song specifically for Room at the Gunter Hotel Mellencamp told the San Antonio Express-News:. Live at the Royal , which peaked at No. On December 6, , Mellencamp performed " Born in the U.
A career-spanning box set of album tracks and demos titled On the Rural Route was released on June 15, , nine weeks before No Better Than This hit stores. Mellencamp, who co-headlined 11 shows in the summer of with Bob Dylan , launched the No Better Than This theater tour on October 29, in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. On this tour, which ran through the summer of and covered the entire United States and Canada and much of Europe, Mellencamp opened each concert with a showing of a Kurt Markus documentary about the making of No Better Than This called "It's About You" before hitting the stage to play three different sets: Mellencamp played for over two hours and included 24 songs in his setlist on the tour.
One reviewer called the opening gig of the European leg of the tour "maybe the best rock-performance ever in Denmark. The tour finally concluded with a tour of Canada in the summer of Mellencamp took part in two Woody Guthrie tribute concerts in as part of a year-long celebration surrounding the year anniversary of the folk icon's birth.
The album captures his live performance at Town Hall in New York City on July 31, , in which he performed every track from his Trouble No More covers album in addition to a rendition of "Highway 61 Revisited" by Bob Dylan and reworked versions of three of his own songs.
In October , Mellencamp revealed that he was working on a new album, and he offered this update on the project to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: I'm not part of the music business. I want to write my songs, do some little shows.
T Bone Burnett is going to come out to Indiana sometime in early January and we're gonna go into the studio for however long it takes to make a new album. I haven't done one in five years.
In January , Mellencamp began recording the project, which would ultimately be titled Plain Spoken and would become his 20th album of original material and 22nd studio album overall. The album was released on September 23, In the summer of , Mellencamp conducted a brief show tour. During these concerts, which primarily took place at casinos and festivals across the United States and Canada, he gave the first taste of Plain Spoken by playing "Troubled Man," the album's first track and first single.
Outside of the Plain Spoken Tour, Mellencamp's most noteworthy live performance in came on February 6, when he paid tribute to Bob Dylan at the annual MusiCares Person of the Year event by performing piano-and-vocal rendition of "Highway 61 Revisited" the piano was played by Troye Kinnett from Mellencamp's band. Never has Mellencamp sounded so artful. After a star-studded lineup paid tribute to Dylan with cover versions of some of his greatest songs, Dylan closed the evening with a minute speech that included a reference to Mellencamp's song "Longest Days".
In December , Mellencamp began recording a duets album with Carlene Carter , who was his opening act for all shows on the Plain Spoken Tour and would join Mellencamp for two songs during his set. John got the idea to do an album together. I was blown away. I think we're onto something really interesting, but I won't give the surprise away. It's different, because I've never really sat down and tried to write duets. That's going to be a fun challenge. While it is considered a duets project, Carter gave Pacific University the first piece of insight that the album wouldn't consist strictly of duets.
Some are duets and some are by themselves—it's different, but really kind of the way John and I roll. We are very like-minded and on musical ground that really feels right. It's been quite a wonderful ride. I know this sounds crazy, but it happens a lot, I think, to songwriters—you can't tell it by looking, but I was working out—and all of a sudden I just started singing 'easy targets' and I thought, 'oh no, now I've got to stop what I'm doing" and it took me The melody came [intact], the lyrics It started out like 'Look, lets go back and do an old country religious record.
We'll try to write songs that sound like those songs, but they'll be new. The leg of the tour concluded on September 3 in Canfield, Ohio. Carter will not accompany Mellencamp on the Canadian portion of the tour. From The Chicago Theatre , was released on May 11, Mellencamp will release a covers album titled Other People's Stuff on November 16, He will embark on a date theater tour in early that is being dubbed "The John Mellencamp Show.
Country music star Keith Urban has consistently cited Mellencamp's influence on his music. It originated when Mellencamp's Lonesome Jubilee tour went to Australia in —Urban was in attendance at one of the concerts and described the experience as an "epiphany.
Urban told the Vancouver Sun in I just remember that moment: Here's that full-on rock section, with Kenny Aronoff on drums and Larry Crane a rock guitarist with swagger.
But there was also Lisa Germano on fiddle, they had an accordion player, there was an acoustic guitarist. I was hit by lightning by that concert. I said to John, 'I didn't walk away thinking: I want to do that. I walked away feeling: I get it — just put all the things you love into what you do.
Urban went into more detail on the impact Mellencamp's Lonesome Jubilee Tour concert had on him when CMT asked him about the concert that most influenced him:. In , Urban and Mellencamp performed "Pink Houses" together twice during nationally televised events. Mellencamp's musical style has generally been described as rock ,   heartland rock ,  roots rock   and folk rock.
Noted art writer Hilarie M. Sheets, a contributing editor to ARTnews who writes regularly for The New York Times , called Mellencamp "a natural storyteller" in a essay she wrote about his artwork.
Known over the course of his successful four-decade music career for his acutely observed songs about the American landscape and its cast of characters, Mellencamp has been equally productive as a painter mining similar terrain.
Mellencamp's interest in painting began in early life, but was superseded in the s by his skyrocketing musical career. However, throughout his life, Mellencamp has continued to seriously explore painting.
Mellencamp came to New York in the mids with the intention of studying painting if his music-career aspirations didn't pan out. In , he joined the Art Students League and had his first formal training with portrait painter David Leffel, who taught him the technique of painting dark to light in the manner of Rembrandt and other old masters.
His discovery of early 20th-century modernists including Chaim Soutine, Walt Kuhn, and particularly the German Expressionists Otto Dix and Max Beckmann pointed the way toward a visceral, pared down approach to portraiture. His portraiture evolved to a personal style that some critics describe as similar to the dark and shadowy paintings of the German Expressionists. They involve expressiveness by means of exaggeration and distortion of line and color, in favor of a simplified style intended to carry an emotional impact.
According to Mellencamp, "German painting remains the basic foundation for what I do same as folk music is the foundation of my songs. Mellencamp's paintings from the s—of family and friends and many of himself—show lone figures isolated frontally against simple, shadowy backgrounds. They stare at the viewer or off into space with eyes both tough and vulnerable, projecting intensity akin to Beckmann's self-portraits with his sad, glowering eyes.
They depict existential scenes and human beings ridden with the angst of the everyday. There are no smiles on the faces of Mellencamp's painted figures. His sad clowns, ex-girlfriends, creative heroes, imagined outliers, and hillbilly singers are often endowed with oversize hands and facial features and always with deadpan, proud stares.
Mellencamp's art work has been the focus of a number of exhibitions. Zona, director and curator of the Butler Institute: John's work is beautifully executed with incredibly fascinating studies. A full-color page catalogue with the aforementioned essay by Sheets accompanied the exhibition.
Writes Sheets, "While Mellencamp has never been interested in whether he captures a faithful likeness of his subjects; he is after a kind of emotional realism and does follow certain "rules" of painting. For Mellencamp, painting has always been a refuge, a solitary antidote to the hectic life of touring and performing. He doesn't see it as a precious or rarified activity but rather about staying productive, keeping his mind engaged, making something out of nothing. Mellencamp has also honed his skills by his own self-education in art history, visiting museums across Europe and America whenever he was on tour and studying a broad spectrum of artists and the mechanics of their work and by looking at signs and billboards out the windows of cars and buses while crisscrossing the country.
According to Sheets, "In recent years, Mellencamp has incorporated the looser, more jangly rhythms of street art into panoramic canvases that reflect his social and political activism also present in his music. Everything is a possible painting. Nationally known art writer Lilly Wei, who interviewed Mellencamp for Studio International , also wrote a brief essay, in which she points out, "Mellencamp is a writer and often uses words in his paintings, from the graffiti scribbled across earlier work inspired by what he saw in the streets and Jean-Michel Basquiat to his present versions of text painting, a genre that is increasingly commonplace in works by artists such as Lawrence Weiner, Richard Prince, Glenn Ligon and Christopher Wool.
Mellencamp, who works in a very different, very personal idiom, makes plainspoken paintings, he says, because he's a plainspoken man. If these works are any indication, plain painting can be extraordinarily eloquent.
An exhibit of Mellencamp's paintings, titled "American Dreams: The exhibit included 50 oil and mixed-media paintings, including several never-before seen by the public. The most recent showing of Mellencamp's artwork, titled "John Mellencamp: Mellencamp's latest painting exhibition, titled Life, Death, Love, and Freedom named in honor of his critically acclaimed album's 10th anniversary , ran at the ACA Galleries from April 26 through June 2, Harper Collins published Paintings and Reflections , an overview of Mellencamp's earlier work as a painter, in Mellencamp began working on a musical with horror author Stephen King , entitled Ghost Brothers of Darkland County , in The musical debuted in the spring of at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta , Georgia, where it ran from April 4 through May In November , Mellencamp told the Chicago Tribune:.
This one, though, is not only tolerable, it's good. It may be the first-ever musical written by men for men. There's no orchestra, just two twangy acoustic guitars, an accordion, and a fiddle. The songs are both haunting and all-American. The Alliance Theatre described the show as a "Southern Gothic musical fraught with mystery, tragedy and ghosts of the past. Ghost Brothers of Darkland County received mixed reviews upon its initial run in Atlanta. The musical toured 20 U.
The show is currently being further developed in London, although King and Mellencamp are no longer as actively involved: Mellencamp has made several forays into acting over the years, appearing in four films: His older brother, Joe Mellencamp, appears in Falling from Grace as the bandleader during the country club scene along with his band Pure Jam.
In , Mellencamp turned down the lead role in the movie The Idolmaker because, as he told the Toledo Blade in , "I was afraid that if I made too much money, I'd have no motivation to make records anymore. That's when I was — believe it or not, I used to not be as ugly as I am now. I was that close. Mellencamp wrote the score for the Meg Ryan movie Ithaca , which premiered on October 23, at the Middleburg Film Festival in Virginia and was released in theaters and on-demand by Momentum Pictures on September 9, He did everything," said Ryan, Mellencamp's on-again, off-again girlfriend.
John Mellencamp wrote every note — everything — the tiny little needle drops you hear in the back. He wrote about half of it after I read him the script, and then the next half after he saw the movie.
In addition to the score, Mellencamp wrote two original songs for Ithaca: Mellencamp's band provided the backing on both tracks and performed all the music that is in the movie. Said Carter in That was when we became friends, when I went to Indiana and recorded with him and the guys this really cool song called 'Sugar Hill Mountain' that's in the movie.
And the movie is wonderful. We got to see a rough cut of it and I was very impressed. Mellencamp lives five miles outside of Bloomington, Indiana on the shores of Lake Monroe ,  but he also has a vacation home on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina.
Mellencamp was married to Priscilla Esterline from until and to Victoria Granucci from until He married fashion model Elaine Irwin on September 5, On December 30, , Mellencamp announced that he and Irwin had separated after 18 years of marriage.
Mellencamp has five children from his three marriages: After his divorce from Irwin, Mellencamp began dating actress Meg Ryan. In September , Mellencamp reportedly started dating former supermodel Christie Brinkley. Mellencamp co-wrote several of his best-known songs with his childhood friend George Green who, like Mellencamp, was born and raised in Seymour, Indiana. Mellencamp and Green's final collaboration was "Yours Forever", a song that was included on the soundtrack to the movie, The Perfect Storm.
Mellencamp and Green had a falling out in the early s, and Green ultimately moved from Bloomington, Indiana to Taos, New Mexico in George has written some great lyrics and we've written some great songs together, but I just couldn't do it any more. On August 28, , Green died in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the age of 59 after losing a battle with a rapid-forming small cell lung cancer. We had a lot of fun together when we were kids.
Later on, we wrote some really good songs together", Mellencamp told the Bloomington Herald Times shortly after Green's death. Mellencamp was critical of Ronald Reagan through his music in the s and wrote some scathing lyrics about Reagan in his song "Country Gentleman: In , Mellencamp became one of the first entertainers to speak out against the Iraq War when he released the song "To Washington", which was also critical of the U.
Bush "The bloody red eyes of the rodeo clown". However, Army officials barred Baez from performing. He told Rolling Stone magazine:. According to a February 8, , Associated Press report, Mellencamp's camp asked that the campaign for presidential candidate Sen. McCain's campaign responded by pulling the songs from their playlist. Mellencamp's publicist, Bob Merlis, noted to the Associated Press:.
Merlis also noted that the same songs had been used, with Mellencamp's approval, by John Edwards's campaign ; in response, the McCain campaign ceased using the songs. Mellencamp also performed "Our Country" at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Indianapolis , Indiana, on May 3, , although he never came out in support of either Obama or Clinton during the primaries. In , Mellencamp's music was used by the National Organization for Marriage at events opposing same-sex marriage.
Mellencamp's views on same sex marriage and equal rights for people of all sexual orientations are at odds with NOM's stated agenda" and requesting that NOM "find music from a source more in harmony with your views than Mr. Mellencamp in the future. Mellencamp was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 14, On July 30, in San Jose, CA, Mellencamp received the John Steinbeck Award, given to those individuals who exemplify the spirit of "Steinbeck's empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man.
A national treasure, he's also one of the truly great music creators that can make us care, move, clap and sing along.
The induction ceremony took place in New York City on March 10, , and Mellencamp was inducted by his good friend Billy Joel , who asked Mellencamp to induct him into the Rock Hall back in Mellencamp had to opt out because of another commitment, so Ray Charles inducted Joel.
During his induction speech for Mellencamp, Joel said: Don't let this club membership change you, John. Stay ornery, stay mean. We need you to be pissed off, and restless because no matter what they tell us—we know this country is going to hell in a handcart.
This country's been hijacked. You know it, and I know it. People are scared, and people are angry. People need to hear a voice like yours that's out there to echo the discontent that's out there in the heartland. They need to hear stories about it. They need to hear stories about frustration, alienation and desperation.
They need to know that somewhere out there somebody feels the way that they do in the small towns and in the big cities. They need to hear it. And it doesn't matter if they hear it on a jukebox, in the local gin mill, or in a goddamn truck commercial because they ain't gonna hear it on the radio any more. They don't care how they hear it as long as they hear it good and loud and clear the way you've always been saying it all along. You're right, John, this is still our country.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the album, see John Cougar album. For Mellencamp's self-titled album, see John Mellencamp album. Mellencamp performing in Norfolk, Virginia in Rock heartland rock roots rock folk rock country rock. Musician singer-songwriter painter actor activist. Archived from the original on April 27, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame official website. Archived from the original on February 1, Retrieved March 11, Retrieved June 28, Archived from the original on April 2, Hoosier musician now Rock Hall of Famer".
Retrieved December 6, Music Archived May 16, , at the Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on February 18, Pink Houses In The Midwest". Classic Rock Magazine December Growing Up In Public". One from the Heartland". Bowling Green Daily News. Rocking My Life Away: Writing about Music and Other Matters. Archived from the original on May 29, Mellencamp and King scare up a musical".
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