John Mellencamp‘s latest single offers a raspy diagnosis of America’s current political ailments. “Let the poor be damned, and the easy targets too,” he sings, before adding sarcastically, “all are created equal – equally beneath me and you.” Mellencamp released the song on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, though the track does not directly reference the new president.
“Easy Target” features late-night, smoky-bar piano and an ornate string section, and Mellencamp delivers his grim lines in a dry croak. He sings about a world where everyone is on their own and no one is safe: “Easy targets all along the avenue/ Living here in sucker town, baby me and you/ Behind the bars to keep each other apart/ Easy targets, our country’s broken heart.”
During a recent conversation with Katie Couric, Mellencamp suggested the song came to him in one jolt of inspiration. “I didn’t even want to write the song,” he said. “All of a sudden, I just started singing ‘easy target’ … as fast as I could write is how long it took me to write the song.”
Though “Easy Target” suggests a bleak view of the future, Mellencamp told Couric that he’s “not really worried about anything.” He presented himself as an outsider observing politics with academic curiosity. “I want to see how weird it’s going to get,” he explained. “All of the things that we grew up believing, now it’s upside down … Do you know what’s going to happen? When a candidate just lies, and people accept the lies?… I’m going to just sit back and just see how weird it gets.”