John Mellencamp talked Farm Aid, his new album Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, mortality and how his political views differ from his fans in a wide-ranging interview with CBS Sunday Morning.
Throughout Mellencamp’s career, the plight of the small town American seeped into the rocker’s music, especially on 1983’s Uh-Huh and 1985’s Scarecrow.
“The reason we made that record was because we were noticing that the landscape of Indiana is changing,” Mellencamp said of Scarecrow in an extended interview with Sunday Morning‘s Jane Pauley.
“All the small towns were going out of business. Why? Why are all these small towns going out of business? Because everybody went to live in the city? No. It was because that corporate farming had moved in and run the small family farmer out of business. Which is why we started Farm Aid.”
Mellencamp, a longtime liberal and the son of Democrats, admitted that his political beliefs are likely in conflict with a great number of his fanbase; there have been instances onstage where he’s been booed by his own crowd for voicing his opinion on political matters.
“If you wanna get into government I can get into it with you real quick,” Mellencamp said. “You probably don’t wanna have this conversation with me, but here’s the deal: I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust the Democrats. I don’t trust the Republicans. I’m a little bit more Democratic than I am Republican, but really I’m a socialist. And that’s where it’s at.”
Mellencamp talked about his new well-received LP Sad Clowns & Hillbillies. “I don’t care,” Mellencamp said of the good reviews. “Doesn’t matter to me. If you care about the good ones, then you’ve got to care about the bad ones.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee also reflected on his career. “I don’t really know how a 25-year-old guy would know that life would go on long after the thrill of living is gone, but I wrote those words,” Mellencamp said. “And for me it was very helpful because I don’t know about you, but I want to do something every day. I want to learn something every day. I want to make something every day. If I go for a day and don’t make anything, I feel guilty about it.”