Thursday, August 28, 2008

Life after Cougar, Sheryl and Obama

John Mellencamp says that his latest album, Life, Death, Love And Freedom, harkens back to the honesty of the classic American folk music. Mellencamp commented on the brutal honesty and darkness reflected in the album's songs, telling Rolling Stone, "If you listen to Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, those were traditional topics in American folk songs -- the songs are about the parts of life that most people don't really want to discuss. Which doesn't necessarily work for pop music that record companies really want to put it out. I made this album for me."

He's adamant that after 30 years in the business his opinion is the only one that matters to him: "I'm trying to live up to what a guy my age should be doing. I'm trying not to look silly. You know, it's like people say, 'Hey, you're a rock star, man.' And I don't see myself that way anymore. I'm just, like, a journeyman electrician or something."

Mellencamp makes no apology for making music that isn't as immediately accessible or radio-friendly as his classic hits. He says that he recognized that some fans were upset that he allowed Chevy to use his 2007 song "Freedom's Road" for their TV spots: "I don't think people like the idea that I did that. But you know what? I've done so many things in my career people didn't like. If I thought it was the end of the line every time I did something' that people didn't like, hell, I'd been done with Johnny Cougar."

T-Bone Burnett
, who produced Life, Death Love, And Freedom, says that he walked away from the sessions a bigger fan then ever of Mellencamp as both an artist and a man.

T-Bone Burnett recently produced Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Grammy Award-winning album Raising Sand.

John Mellencamp will next appear at Farm Aid on September 20th in Mansfield, Massachusetts at the Comcast Center. Among the other musicians appearing on the bill are Arlo Guthrie, Dave Matthews, Jakob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kenny Chesney, Neil Young, Steve Earle, the Pretenders, and Willie Nelson.
Sheryl Crow will stop by the Democratic National Convention today to perform at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver. She'll help close out the event on the same night Barack Obama accepts the Democratic presidential nomination. Crow is expected to play three songs at around 5:30 p.m., and the performance will air live on TV. She'll then head over to her already-scheduled concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon.

Crow has been very active in the campaign so far. She performed in Denver last weekend and has offered to give away digital copies of her album to anyone who gets three people to register to vote. Crow recently told Extra, "I like to think of myself as an artist and a songwriter and I feel like my voice is better utilized if I'm encouraging people to exercise their right and their freedom to vote safely in this country. To please get registered and make their voice heard rather than endorse a candidate."

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