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Dave Discovers that Rocker John Mellencamp Was a Country Music Artist 3 Decades Ahead of His Time

John Mellencamp
Getty Images, Scott Gries

I was recently taking a cyber-stroll down memory lane, watching some of my favorite music videos on YouTube. I don’t tend to dwell on how old I am too often, but when I do, I always seem to make interesting discoveries as the past relates to present day. This time, I discovered that rock singer John Mellencamp‘s 30-year old songs would make for great country music today.

John Mellencamp is of my favorite artists from the 80’s. A staple on rock & roll and pop radio for more than a decade, the artist once known as John Cougar was a certified hit maker. What I knew and appreciated about him is that he had important things to say, and his songs spoke to regular folks. I loved that Mellencamp was a voice for blue collar Americans, especially farmers. I’m not ashamed to admit that a couple of his songs still give me chill bumps, like ‘Scarecrow’. Watch the video here:

While watching John Mellencamp on MTV in the mid-80’s, I had no idea I was seeing mainstream country music, three decades ahead of its time. It’s suddenly obvious to me.

Mellencamp co-founded Farm Aid with country icon Willie Nelson in 1985. If that’s not something a country singer would do, I don’t know what is. Songs like ‘Pink Houses‘ (Ain’t That America), ‘Small Town‘, ‘Jack & Diane‘ and ‘Authority Song‘ are all songs that you could hear on country radio today.

All this time, I thought I had evolved into a country music fan over the years. But I’m starting to realize that not only is that true (I’ve grown to love and appreciate Willie, Cash, Merle, Hank and several other legends), but country music has evolved to become like John Mellencamp and other pop rock artists that I’ve always loved from decades past.

This sparks an idea. A few years back, country music artists came together to create a tribute album to the rock band The Eagles. I think it would be a great idea for a similar project to come together for John Mellencamp. What do you think?

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