Heartland rocker, John Mellencamp shares his thoughts on aging, songwriting, and his good and not-so-good habits in the June/July issue of AARP The Magazine

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Heartland rocker, John Mellencamp shares his thoughts on aging, songwriting, and his good and not-so-good habits in the June/July issue of AARP The Magazine. Below are quotes from this issue.


On being an untortured artist:


“At this point, songwriting is the easiest thing.  I wrote ‘Easy Target,’ a song on my new album, while I was painting.  It took eight minutes.  The melody came right along with the words.  I didn’t even have a guitar.  I just sang it into my phone.”


On the granny boost:


“Growing up, my grandmother took care of me.  I was very fragile, because I was born with spina bifida.  She told me over and over: ‘Buddy , you are the luckiest, handsomest, most talented boy in the world.’ She’s the reason I’m here.  A lot of guys do what I do because they have a poor self-image.  They need the applause.  I don’t need that.


On being the small-town boy in the city:


“I was some hillbilly kid from Indiana.  I went to New York to study painting and happened to get a record deal.  When MTV happened, we all became movie stars.  I couldn’t leave the house.  It went on for 10 or 12 years.”


On that famous little ditty (“Jack & Diane”):


“I was young, but I knew what I was doing the night I wrote “Jack & Diane.” Everyone knows that song.  Everybody – city, country, gravel road, igloo – it’s their song.  That’s magic.  I play it every night.”


On his day job:


“Painting is harder on me than being onstage.  I stand 8 or 10 hours a day.  I used to consider it a hobby, but now I don’t.  It’s hard to be taken seriously because I’ll always be considered a celebrity painter.  Being a rock star has been a pain in the ass all around.”


On his advice to his son:


“Here’s what I told my son Speck, who’s always fighting everybody and fighting himself.  I said, ‘I know you consider yourself a dangerous young man, but I’m a dangerous old man.’ A dangerous old man can use anger to his advantage.  He’s cagier and smarter.  HE knows what he’s doing.  A young man just has outbursts.”


On his good and bad habits:


“I lift weights and I run, but my exercise is not about vanity.  I work out because I smoke.  If I’m going to afford myself the luxury of smoking, I’d better do something to offset it.”


On his advice to girls:


“Girls, never trust a man under 40, because he’s still a boy.  I’ve met thousands of tough guys, thousands of nice guys; they’re all the same.”


On the myth of happiness:


“Happiness is a fleeting moment of a day.  It’s not a state of being.  If you’re happy all the time, something’s wrong with you.  We are put on this earth to toil and to make things.  Making the world a better place is not a happy job.”


On what is left for him:


“I intend to make my ending good.  I’m hoping it’s one of those long, lingering deathbed conversions.  A lot of people go, ‘oh, I hope I just die quick.’ Not me.  I need time to put things right.”

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