On Friday (January 21st),John Mellencamp will release his 25th album, Strictly A One-Eyed Jack, with advance reviews touting the set as not only a return to form but breaking new ground for the rock veteran.
Joining Mellencamp for the sessions was Bruce Springsteen, who guests on three songs. Mellencamp was asked by Forbes how he and "The Boss" happened to finally decide to team up: "It was quite by accident. For my entire career I was always like the poor man's Bruce Springsteen. And Bruce and I have known each other for years. We met each other years ago, but we just knew each other enough to say hi. But we did a rainforest thing for Sting and we played together. And all of a sudden he was like my big brother, and he treated me like I was his sibling, and I treated him with respect. And then we became really good friends, and it just kind of happened. He came to Indiana, he stayed at the house. It was great. And I talk to Bruce all the time now. I know what he's doing right now. He knows where I'm at. So it's good. It's been a good thing."
Mellencamp was asked about which artists he admires for their creative evolution: "I admire Bob (Dylan). And I admire Bruce, and I admire Woody Guthrie, and I admire Nat King Cole. I admire Louis Armstrong. We were laughing, when we were making this record, it was like, 'John, your voice has changed so much since you started.' And I said, 'Well, the cigarettes are starting to pay off.' And I was happy when I heard me sing 'Gone So Soon,' that I sounded like Louis Armstrong. It wasn't anything I tried to do, it's just that cigarettes take their f***ing toll on your vocal chords. And so even you can tell by just talking to me, that my voice is raspy, and that's all from smoking. Nothing that I wanted to do. It never dawned on me that it would happen. But I'm happy that I sound that way."
Mellencamp, who's now 70-years-old, went onto explain, "I grew up in public. I was 21-years-old when I made my first record. And I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Not a clue. I was a ballroom singer, and the idea of writing a song was like almost laughable. 'What, you want me to write songs? I'm a singer.' So I had to learn how to write songs. And I wrote songs and I grew up in public. And at first I didn't like that idea, but now, I'm happy it happened because it gave me the opportunity to have the chip on my shoulder and to grow."
He went on to reveal, "I wrote a song called 'Jack & Diane.' And I always detested that song until the last couple, three years. I watched a football game this past weekend, and 80,000 people were singing that song at half time. Can you imagine? I thought, 'S***.' I said, 'How do all these f***ing people know this song?'"