Fight authority with John Mellencamp at the Wang Theatre

The heartland rocker celebrates the deluxe reissue of 1985's "Rain on the Scarecrow" with a Boston stop in June.

John Mellencamp. Courtesy Photo /

In case you were wondering how many you-know-whats John Mellencamp has left to give, this is the message that greets you when you log onto his website,

“Only in America, and I mean only, in America, can 21 people be murdered and a week later be buried and forgotten, with a flimsy little thumbnail, a vague notion of some sort of gun control law laying on the senators’ desks. What kind of people are we who claim that we care about pro-life? Just so you know, anyone that’s reading this….politicians don’t give a f*** about you, they don’t give a f*** about me, and they don’t give a f*** about our children. So, with that cheery thought in mind, have a happy summer, because it will be just a short time before it happens again.” — John Mellencamp


Presumably even though summer has now passed, Mellencamp is still just as pissed off as he was whenever that was first posted. So it’s reasonable to assume that when he hits the road for his 76-date North American tour in 2023, he’ll have plenty to say about the state of the nation — something no one who’s followed his music for the past four decades should find surprising.

In fact, ever since he reclaimed his proper surname from whatever publicists convinced him to introduce himself to the world as “Johnny Cougar” back in 1976, Mellencamp has never been one to back down from a fight, musically or otherwise. The heartland rocker famously railed against the man on “Authority Song,” addressed American malaise in “Pink Houses,” and took on the plight of the American farmer with “Rain on the Scarecrow.” That song and the album that spawned it — 1985’s “Scarecrow,” now back in a deluxe box-set edition — led to Mellencamp’s involvement in Farm Aid, the annual benefit concert he started with Willie Nelson and Neil Young that same year. And it’s still going: The 2022 edition happened in September in North Carolina, with Mellencamp front and center.


Mellencamp’s recent output, meanwhile, has been a little more personal: This year’s “Strictly a One-Eyed Jack,” his 23rd album, featured no shortage of ruminations on aging and mortality from the now-70-year-old singer, including this bon mot from “Wasted Days,” a duet with Bruce Springsteen: “How many summers still remain? How many days are lost in vain? Who’s counting out these last dramatic years? How many minutes do we have here?” We’re tempted to tell him to cheer up but we’re afraid he might flick his cigarette at us.

Instead, we recommend checking him out when he brings his amazing catalog of songs, and no shortage of spicy Hoosier attitude, to the Wang Theatre next June 10.

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