Esquire interviews Mellencamp about his evolution as an artist over the years.
Well, you’re right. And there’s been such a paradigm change in our culture. Music actually meant something when I started doing it. Too bad I wasn’t mature enough to write anything that meant anything [laughs]. I wrote some songs that connected with some people and, as a friend of mine said, “John was very fortunate to be a big pop star and that’s also a very unfortunate thing.” As early as ’88 I wrote a song called “Pop Singer,” and man, did I catch shit for that. But I was still a kid. I don’t mean to call you a kid, but you’ll find out that you get to be a certain age and it’s like “This stuff just doesn’t interest me anymore.” I mean, I can’t even imagine writing a song like “Hurts So Good.” I don’t even know who that guy was who wrote that song.