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Mellencamp: American Troubadour

by David Masciotra

Availablecloth$35.00s 978-0-8131-4733-8
Availableepub$35.00s 978-0-8131-4734-5
Availableweb pdf$35.00s 978-0-8131-4735-2
290 pages  Pubdate: 04/14/2015  6 x 9  

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Throughout his prolific career, John Mellencamp has performed more than twenty Top 40 hits, has been nominated for thirteen Grammy Awards, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hits like “Jack and Diane,” “Small Town,” and “Cherry Bomb” are iconic American songs that have played an important role in defining midwestern music and developing the rock genre. Despite his critical and commercial success, however, the rough guy from a small town writing songs about everything he “learned about living” is often omitted from the ranks of America’s songwriting elite.

In Mellencamp, David Masciotra explores the life and career of one of America’s most important and underrated songwriters, persuasively arguing that he deserves to be celebrated alongside artists like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan. Beginning with his modest beginnings in Seymour, Indiana, Masciotra details Mellencamp’s road to fame, examining his struggles with the music industry and his persistent dedication to his midwestern roots. Shaking off the shortsighted “regionalist” stereotype and dismissing his assumed pop-star persona, Mellencamp found success by remaining true to where he came from.

This thoughtful analysis highlights four decades of the artist’s music, which has consistently elevated the dignity of everyday people and honored the quiet heroism of raising families and working hard. This first serious biography of the legendary musician will charm fans and music enthusiasts who are interested in the development of roots rock and Americana music.

David Masciotra is a regular contributor to Salon and AlterNet. He is the author of Working on a Dream: The Progressive Political Vision of Bruce Springsteen and has written for numerous publications, including the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Part biography, part cultural and sociological commentary—with a touch of hagiography/fan nonfiction thrown in—Mellencamp is almost a new genre. Masciotra’s observations, contributions, and asides are apt and diverse. Both Mellencamp’s work and the man himself are deeper than they appear, and this book really shores this up. -- Susan Compo, author of Warren Oates: A Wild Life

David Masciotra writes with the precision and integrity and humanity of a great journalist, one whose word you can trust. He knows his subject, and his prose and reporting are always informed by the lights of compassion and decency. -- James Lee Burke, author of Wayfaring Stranger

For almost 40 years, John Mellencamp has been forging a path through the thickets of the music industry, meditating on the connections between rock, soul, folk and funk. In the process, he's established himself as a major artist whose work is sometimes obscured by the shadows of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. In this detailed, loving book, David Masciotra shines the light of his critical intelligence on the connections between Mellencamp's life, his music, and the commitment to a deeper understanding of our shared humanity. -- Craig Werner, author of Up Around the Bend: An Oral History of Creedence Clearwater Revival

This thoughtful analysis highlights four decades of the artist's music, which has consistently elevated the dignity of everyday people and honored the quiet heroism of raising families and working hard. This first serious biography of the legendary musician will charm fans and music enthusiasts who are interested in the development of roots rock and Americana music. -- WVXU-FM