John Mellencamp Brings the Heartland to Carnegie Hall
For over half a century Carnegie Hall has cultivated a rich history of hosting some of the most important rock and country music artists of our day. From Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash to Bruce Springsteen and the Flaming Lips, many of the greatest names in popular music have graced the stages at Carnegie Hall. John Mellencamp adds to that legacy when he returns to the Hall later this month, nearly 24 years after making his debut here on September 16, 1991.
|John Mellencamp’s 1991 autograph (magnified at right) appears alongside those of other great artists who have performed at the Hall in this poster, which hangs in the Carnegie Hall Archives Research Room.|
The singer-songwriter, known for his signature brand of heartland rock, plays two shows in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage on April 20 and 21, presented by AEG Live. These Carnegie Hall concerts are part of an 80-show tour with Special Guest Carlene Carter in support of Mellencamp’s new album, Plain Spoken. Concertgoers will receive a digital download of Plain Spoken with purchase of tickets to the tour.
Now well over 30 years removed from the initial fame brought on by “Jack and Diane,” John Mellencamp is still as prolific and restless as ever, and he continues to seek out new avenues for expressing himself as an artist. Since his mid-eighties heyday, Mellencamp has moved away from writing accessible rock anthems to instead focus on traditional folk, country, and roots music. He has been exploring different facets of Americana since 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee, and has taken few breaks from writing and recording during this time. Indeed, his new record Plain Spoken represents his 22nd album of new material.
One could argue that John Mellencamp took the familiar mantra from “Jack and Diane” to heart when penning the brooding lyrics to the songs on his new album. Yet while introspection, uncertainty, and disillusionment do pervade Mellencamp’s recent output and are undoubtedly present on Plain Spoken, his passion for songwriting and performing is alive and well.
This is evident from the opening track and first single, “Troubled Man,” which sets the mood and serves as a microcosm for the album as a whole. “No hopes to get better until they put me down to rest; I am a troubled man,” Mellencamp sings during the refrain. Although the album is filled with such lines, Mellencamp’s music nevertheless sounds refreshingly alive and warm. Even the weightier songs in this set are unburdened by exceedingly pleasant arrangements: acoustic guitar accompaniment intertwined with restrained but insistent percussion, judiciously adorned with dashes of fiddle, harmonica, and organ.
Though Mellencamp’s lyrics have become darker and more contemplative over the years, his themes have always been deeply rooted in the American heartland, and he remains passionate about issues and causes relating to this area of the country. Chief among these is Farm Aid, an organization that he co-founded in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms.
Watch John Mellencamp perform “Troubled Man” at last year’s annual Farm Aid concert in Raleigh, North Carolina.
John Mellencamp at Carnegie Hall:
Presented by AEG Live
Presented by AEG Live
Grammy Award-winning musician John Mellencamp has influenced American culture with his enduring songs. He plays 80 shows throughout 2015 with Special Guest Carlene Carter, and concertgoers will receive a digital download of his new record Plain Spoken with purchase of tickets to the tour (one download code per ticket for online and phone purchases only; does not apply to box office).