Friday, July 03, 2009

this growing old ain't for cowards

Video: John Mellencamp Live, Don't Need This Body

I haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to John Mellencamp since he had a Cougar in his name and Jack & Diane dribbled off her Bobbie Brooks. I played that tape (it was a tape then) endlessly, maybe because it intersected with a whole new landscape in my young life that had its share of running off behind shady trees and doing what I pleased. But then I grew up and got all serious about my music and decided (I guess) that John Mellencamp wasn’t serious enough.

I didn’t mean to leave him cold. I just didn’t pay much attention to what he was up to.

I heard Mr. Mellencamp on Terry Gross this morning (it was a rerun) and was captivated all over again. By his gravelly grown old voice and the way he’d lick in a few chords while he was talking about a tune; the way he played things I’d never heard him play; the way he spoke about his politics, about America, about storytelling, about mortality.

Was captivated enough that I downloaded his latest release, which came around almost a year ago, and looped it while I was cooking up a mess of chicken soup this morning along with other assorted stuff that needs to be tended to before it goes bad in the fridge.

Maybe because this discovery comes hard on the heels of waking up not too long ago in the dark hours of dawn in a hotel room in Midtown Manhattan and feeling, for the first time really, how old I've grown; feeling each wrinkly soft spot like another ring on the tree. Maybe that's why I realized with immediate sympathy that I still love this man »

Mellencamp is touring with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson this summer in what appears to be a series of podunk stops all South of the Mason Dixon Line. Plotting now to see if we might be able to intersect one of Mr. Hoo's county fairs (of which he's so fond) with a roadtrip to the middle of nowhere to give a listen.

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