Ain’t That America

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John Mellencamp has gotten into some hot water and prominent ink recently over his decision to give up the song “Our Country” from his new album for a Chevrolet truck commercial. Some call him a sell out. His answer is that he is a songwriter and musician from way back, competing from Indiana in the post-indie rock world of mass music. He’s trying to be heard and keep his career alive. He also got involved with the ads themselves, insisting they run true to what he envisions as John Mellencamp music videos. Insisting they step up to the hard social issues in America. This, arguably, got him into the truck-selling business with images of war and hurricane. On top of that, he may have peaked early–the ads have been running constantly for weeks prior to the album release. Maybe he’s overexposed. I, in any case, will cut the guy slack because he’s a good painter.

What about you? John Mellencamp. Sell out, shrewd late career move, miscalculation–what do you think?

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7 Responses to “Ain’t That America”

  1. mrschili Says:

    You know? I kind of liked the song before I heard the same bit of it SIXTY QUAZILLION TIMES during football season. PLAY ANOTHER DAMNED COMMERCIAL, already!

    I don’t think of it as selling out, really. I mean, Mellencamp is already pretty established, so I’m not sure that he NEEDED to sell his song to Chevy (is IS Chevy, right? I’m so pissed off about seeing the ad so many times that I’ve blocked the product reference. How’s THAT for effective advertising?). I have no problem with the lesser-knowns singing jingles (I’m pretty sure, but have never been able to independently confirm, that Jonatha Brooke sung a Goodyear jingle at one point). Really, though, my only complaint is the near-torturous saturation of this particular ad.

    And I didn’t know he paints….

  2. Todd Says:

    Barry Manilow did a lot of singing for MacDonalds in the 70s, Randy Newman churned out a ton of commercial stuff as well. I have not heard the John Mellencamp song, don’t watch more than a few hours of TV a week, and never football. Plus, neo-mullets on tv frighten the children. I think a musician deserves to make a living any way they can. I have heard that Mr. Mellencamp can be a bit of a sour turd to work with. I do not think he is a sell out, mans gotta eat after all.

  3. Patia Says:

    John Cougar, I mean Mellencamp, is no more a sellout than any other mainstream musician today.

    Hey, Rick, wanna have lunch next week?

  4. Carroll Says:

    Patia! You lucky duck!! Lunch with Rick? I wanna. I wanna!

    Count me in the “entitled to make a buck any way they can” camp. IMO, putting good music out there for an audience, any audience, makes the world a better place.

    I mean, think about it…if McDonalds, or Chevy, or (cough) something like Avon…wanted to hang one of your paintings in the background on a set or for a photo shoot, should/would we object that you were selling out? Hell no!

    I haven’t heard that commercial yet, but will keep my ears open for it now.

  5. Rick Says:

    The answer: You are all correct!

    I line up most with Todd. Like him, I am outside the truck-buying demographic and I only heard the song on a commercial once. I was moving fast and made a mental note. I can’t remember it. Little Johnny Cougat gotta let ‘er rip, man.

    He is a good painter. I have this book–the proceeds went to an art school. Very influenced by Beckmann (see the book cover) and Soutine, to some extent. And by ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, MANNNNN!!!!!

  6. colleen Says:

    This is very eerie. I just wrote a post for tomorrow about Mellencamp. Not about this issue.

    I can’t remember if I’ve seen his ad or not. I vaguely remember it. If I have seen it I blocked it out because I didn’t want to think about yet another musician I admire selling products on TV. But I think the fact that he speaks his mind musically and writes protest songs makes up for the truck ad.

    I actually think maybe I did see it and was glad in a way to hear from John in some way. You see just how confused the whole issue is for me. It’s not black and white anymore, but in general I find using so many of the songs I grew up loving to sell stuff Sacrilegious.

    I purposely didn’t read the comments above but I’m going to now to see what the consensus here is.

  7. Birdie Says:

    Nah. Not a sell-out. I love him, by the way, have all his music, even almost met him once when I lived in Bloomington in a past life. He was eating at the Phoenix Dumpling, a hole in the wall Chinese place and he sat down at the table next to me. I wanted him to break out into song but he ate his dan-dan noodles instead. Such are brushes with fame.

    And yeah, he’s a great painter.

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