Hurts So Good

Glenn Rohrbacker

One characteristic of our generation of music today is the fact that, while new artists are producing new music, old artists are producing new music as well. This continuing clash will soon get larger and larger as time goes on.

John Mellencamp, who got his start in 1976, just released his twenty-second album on Sept. 27 (AP photo)
John Mellencamp, who got his start in 1976, just released his twenty-second album on Sept. 27 (AP photo)

We think of artists like the Beatles, Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones and many others as being “classics.” However, while most of these musicians still make music, do we consider these new songs classics too? How could we? We grew up on songs like “Let it Be” and “Piano Man,” so it’s hard to compare songs we’ve just always known with songs that are similar but are in a time where the “music norm” is different. The most recent addition to this list of classic artists who are still kickin’ is John Mellencamp. You may have heard of songs like “Hurts So Good,” “Jack & Diane” and “Little Pink Houses.” Mellencamp released his twenty-second (yes, that’s right) studio album this week, titled Plain Spoken. At 62 years old, you can hear the age in his raspy voice that seems to be following a Bob Dylan path. John Mellencamp slowed this album down a bit with several ballads in his country-rock style of songwriting. The single, “Troubled Man,” was the first song released on this album. He really sticks true to his album title on this one, really speaking from the heart and singing about life. The blues track “Lawless Times” is about political corruption and disrupt, which is a topic we seldom see written about in today’s music. A really sentimental message comes out of “Tears of Vain,” which talks about heartbreak and dealing with that struggle. To be honest, there was very little difference of creative thinking between songs, because all of them sound relatively the same. Maybe that’s just what happens when you’ve been around since the late ‘70’s and recorded 22 albums. Will this be the last we hear from John Mellencamp? Probably not. But I think it’s safe to say that there are some artists that we still look forward to their new releases, even after all these years, and then some we don’t as much. I have to hand it to Mellencamp though; at 62, he still can bring all of the emotion and heart into a song and leave you thinking. It’s too bad that Plain Spoken didn’t turn out to be a turnaround album for him or a comeback of sorts. I’m just glad that musicians from back in the day are still spreading their influence.