By Philip Cosores
How far has John Mellencamp come since Johnny Cougar released “Jack and Diane” 32 years ago? Well, the legendary singer and songwriter now has a record contract that is described as a “lifetime” deal with Republic Records, for one.
But the settling into late-career maturity can also be heard on new single “Troubled Man,” from his upcoming album Plain Spoken, his first collection of new material since 2010’s No Better Than This. The song, produced by another music titan in T-Bone Burnett, drifts more into alt-country and Americana realms than his career traveled in the later ’80s and ’90s, seeing Mellencamp achieving an image sonically that lives up to the numbers that his career has put up.
Plain Spoken will be released on September 23, with Mellencamp telling Rolling Stone (via Ultimate Classic Rock) what is obvious for anyone with ears after listening to “Troubled Man”: “I am done being a rock star. I have no interest in that, in having the biggest concerts. I have only one interest: to have fun while we’re doing this and maybe have something that somebody might discover.”