John Mellencamp wants it to be clear that he does not in any way support Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s use of his songs during recent campaign rallies.
Mellencamp’s 1983 hit song “Pink Houses” was played while supporters waited for Walker during rallies Tuesday for the launch of the governor’s re-election campaign.
This isn’t the first time the liberal heartland rocker has had this particular issue with the conservative governor.
Walker previously used Mellencamp’s “Small Town”, off the 1985 album Scarecrow, at campaign rallies during the 2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election, which had stemmed from a massively protested 2011 bill which had effectively ended collective bargaining rights for the majority of public workers in the state. When Mellencamp learned of the song’s use, he had his publicist contact Walker’s office to let the governor know that Mellencamp supports collective bargaining and union rights.
“Nothing has changed since the last time Gov. Walker ran for election,” Mellencamp’s publicist Claire Mercuri said in an email to the Associated Press.
While neither Mellencamp nor his publicist have contacted the governor’s office directly about Walker deciding to use another song this week, Mercuri says that Mellencamp wants to remind Walker of where he stands regarding not only the governor’s politics but the use of his songs in such a manner.
John Mellencamp has been very vocal over the years when its comes to the use of his music by politicians or organizations that he does not support ideologically.
In 2008, Mellencamp had a similar situation with Senator John McCain using the song “Our Country” as part of his campaign. A letter was sent to the Republican senator explaining Mellencamp’s discomfort with the song choice, stating:
“Mr. Mellencamp identifies very strongly with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and was supportive (with these same songs!) of the candidacy of John Edwards, on whose behalf he made several campaign appearances.
“Are you sure you want to use his music to promote Senator McCain’s efforts? Logic says that the facts might prove to be an embarrassment, were they to be circulated widely.”
McCain’s campaign subsequently stopped using Mellencamp’s song.
In 2010, the National Organization for Marriage used the song “Pink Houses” at some of their events. Mellencamp let the organization know that he didn’t agree with their opposition to same-sex marriage, suggesting they choose a song by someone who did.
John Mellencamp doesn’t spend all his time taking conservatives to task, however. Next January, he will enter the studio with 85 new songs and legendary producer T Bone Burnett:
“I just signed with Universal, so I’m back on a major label. I’ve got a notebook with 85 new songs that I’ve written for my next record. T Bone Burnett is going to come out to (my home in) Indiana sometime in early January and we’re gonna go into the studio for however long it takes to make a new album. I haven’t done one in five years.”
Last year, Mellencamp collaborated with author Stephen King, as well as Burnett, on a musical, The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.