Democrat John Mellencamp and Republican Travis Tritt stood on a Nashville street corner Monday to make a bi-partisan plea for political civility.
The rock star and country singer were filming the video for their current duet, “What Say You,” from Tritt’s CD My Honky Tonk History. The two star as street musicians standing in front of a fictional Ruby’s Cafe, and the Chris Lenz-directed video will be interspersed with montages of Middle America. The video will be released in the coming weeks, and Mellencamp and Tritt plan to perform together on a number of television shows.
“It’s a very positive message,” Mellencamp says of the single, penned by songwriters Frank Myers and Michael Bradford. “It’s that we should be able to say what is on our minds and have an intelligent exchange of opinion — whether you’re left, right, middle or whatever — without suffering repercussions. For some reason, in this country right now, that’s not happening. If you don’t believe one way, you are ‘anti-American,’ you’re ‘not supporting the troops.’ I just think it’s wrong.”
The song, based on a phrase used by conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly, features the lyrics, “I don’t have all the answers/But I share my point of view/What say you?”
Tritt, who recently played an event during the Republican National Convention, had several reasons for working with Mellencamp, a participant in the anti-Bush Vote for Change tour. “I’ve admired his music for so many years,” Tritt says. “I also admire his integrity. Very much like me, he has resisted all outside pressures to change his music or let anybody tell him what his music should be. And the fact that I thought our voices would work well together even though we have different political viewpoints really illustrates what this song is about.”