Jackie Brown


“After the divorce went through, my wife took my two little kids and moved away from Indiana, which she was allowed to do because I didn’t contest it. I had a family, and all of a sudden I didn’t. I had just done the Lonesome Jubilee tour, it was the biggest, most successful tour in the country that year, and it meant nothing to me. I was grateful that people liked the songs, but I felt like a monkey on a string. We did 190 shows, and it was like, “Oh, let’s get out there and give them one more rousing chorus of ‘Pink Houses.'” I was like a cheerleader, and I didn’t like it. I wrote “Jackie Brown” about myself in a different scenario: me disguised as a poor guy – not as a guy that had been successful and pretty much lost everything, which in my mind I had, because I’d lost my daughters. The song is about how you have to go outside to use the bathroom because you’ve sunk so low.”John Mellencamp (223)

Love And Happiness


“We were dropping our bombs in the Southern Hemisphere (1991), and people there were starving. It was an indictment of our culture. It was another song about the politics of shoving people around.”John Mellencamp (223)

Peaceful World


“I signed to Columbia at this point against my better judgment. On “Peaceful World,” I brought in India Arie to sing on it. I won’t mention any names, but when this song was delivered to Columbia, one of the executives said, “Why does Mellencamp always have a fuckin’ nigger singing with him?” My manager came back and told me that, and I was like, “Get me off this fucking label. I don’t give a shit. Get me off Columbia right now.” The song came out one month before 9/11. The New York Times said it could become the “Imagine” of our generation.”John Mellencamp (223)

Troubled Land


“Any liberal can relate. I was speaking for a certain silent generation at the end of Bush’s eight years (2008). We were all exhausted and couldn’t believe what was coming next.”John Mellencamp (223)

If I Die Sudden


“I don’t like to talk about it, but my best friends in the whole world – Mark Ripley, Tim White, Jay Nicholson and George Green – all died around that same time. I used to talk to [Billboard editor – Ed] Tim White every single day. I used to talk to Mark every single day. Then my grandmother died and my mother died. I saw everybody I love just disappear. “If I Die Sudden” is kind of an instructional thing, about what to do and not do when I die. I had an uncle that said the same exact thing. The song is also in honor of all those people.”John Mellencamp (223)

No One Cares About Me


“Feeling sorry for yourself is a number-one pastime here in America. This song is a bunch of little vignettes about why nobody cares about this guy, but at the end, it’s that he really doesn’t care about himself. I was feeling that way in the moment, so the song is really about me. At this point, though, I hate people knowing where I am. I had to get a cellphone after I divorced Elaine, but I don’t like people being able to get hold of me. I’ve been around so many people for so long that I take great delight in my own company.”John Mellencamp (223)

Sometimes There’s God


“It’s not really about religion but it’s about how one can find God within themselves in troubled moments.”John Mellencamp (622)

The Isolation Of Mister


“I think this song is about people, it’s an age-appropriate song for people of my age and about men in particular who have regrets in their life.”John Mellencamp (622)

Your Life Is Now


“[Is it an invitation to overcome the difficulties of growing up? An invitation to act, to get up? – Ed] Let me say something: Growing up is easy, you are going to do that whether you want to do it or not. You are going to grow up, I am going to grow up, and our kids are going to grow up whether they want to or not. What’s hard about it, is the things you learn while you are growing. You learn certain things and it is how do you assemble these things in your fucking mind, and you can make them work for you or make them work against you. I have many friends I grew up with, and my life and their lives, seemingly, were the same. Some of these guys don’t even have jobs yet, in their fucking lives they have never had a job. I have one friend who is 47 years old and still lives with his parents. We grew up the same way, I saw the guy every day. The information that he took, and the information that I took, were the same, just assembled totally differently.”John Mellencamp (312)

Eden Is Burning


“When I was writing it, I really didn’t think I was saying anything about Jack and Diane, I was talking about Richard Pryor. They only went to see the movie but Richard Pryor’s life is burning, Eden is burning. This guy’s life is totally fucked-up; it burned himself up, cocaine and heart attacks and, recently, Parkinson’s disease. I was talking about him more than I was about them [Jack and Diane – Ed].”John Mellencamp (312)

Chance Meeting At The Tarantula


“‘Chance Meeting At The Tarantula’ is all about lack of morality. Specifically about those people who have lived together with, that after years you haven’t met, meet you in the streets and fake not to know you.”John Mellencamp (312)