If you’re planning to sing a little ditty about Jack and Diane, don’t do it around John Mellencamp. “Jack & Diane” is arguably one of Mellencamp’s biggest hits. He released the song in July of 1982. Before long, it found its way to the top of the charts. Then, it stayed there for four straight weeks. Today, classic rock fans around the world still crank up the volume when the ballad comes on. Mellencamp, however, isn’t a fan.
Recently, Mellencamp connected with Forbes to talk about his upcoming album. Additionally, they talked about his decades-long career in the music industry. At one point, the classic rocker looked all the way back to the early days of his career when he still billed himself as John Cougar Mellencamp. Of course, the conversation turned to “Jack & Diane.”
John Mellencamp “Detested” “Jack & Diane” for Years
Today, fans know John Mellencamp as an expert songwriter. His lyrics tell the stories of working-class people in America’s heartland. However, at the beginning of his career, he found the thought of writing songs laughable. At that time, Mellencamp was a ballroom singer. About this, he said, “I grew up in public. I was 21 years old when I made my first record. And, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Not a clue. I was a ballroom singer and the idea of writing a song was like almost laughable.” However, he quickly learned the craft of songwriting. Before long, he penned a little ditty called “Jack & Diane.”
About the enduring hit song, John Mellencamp stated flatly, “I always detested that song until the last couple, three years.” More recently, he witnessed how much everyone else disagrees with him. “I watched a football game this past weekend, and 80,000 people were singing that song at halftime. Can you imagine?” That blew Mellencamp away and left him with one big question. “How do all these f***ing people know this song?”
Out-of-Touch on Purpose
At this point, “Jack & Diane” isn’t just a song anymore. It’s a cultural touchstone. It’s one of those things that can bridge the gap of generations. However, John Mellencamp is unaware of its cultural impact. In fact, he told Forbes that he’s out-of-touch with pop culture and likes it that way.
They asked if he was aware of the impact of “Jack & Diane” and other hits. Mellencamp admitted that he wasn’t aware. “I’m not really part of the club,” the classic rocker explained. “I live a very solitude [sic] life. I’m alone a lot, whenever I can be. I’m alone on top of this mountain. So I don’t pay attention to popular culture.”
John Mellencamp’s next album Strictly a One-Eyed Jack hits shelves and streaming this Friday (1/24).