I never cared much for John Mellencamp's music, so I was prepared to get all snarky about the revelation that he "channels" people like Tennessee Williams and Pete Seeger. But then I read the story and it sounds more like he's just saying they speak to him, i.e. inspire him. Then there is this, which makes me like him a lot more
Mellencamp's recent comments about his need to make age-appropriate music are certain to rub some peers the wrong way. He doesn't see the point of running around a stage and singing about girls the way he did 30 years ago. He remembers seeing James Brown in his prime and being electrified, then cringing 25 years later watching the soul master struggle to get up from his signature splits.
An example of how he talks to his peers is the song "The Isolation of Mister," about a headstrong man who got it all wrong when he was younger. Autobiography? To an extent, but Mellencamp said many can relate.
"I think that a lot of men when they reach a certain age, they realize what they've done and what their regrets are," he said.
Been there, done that. The realization that you were young and stupid and have changed (matured and gotten wiser, hopefully) as you got older is hard enough. Admitting it out loud is even harder. Finally coming to understand that this is part of the natural human condition, that it happens to everybody, is one of those "so obvious nobody gets it" insights.
Of course, Bob Dylan said it better and more succinctly: "Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."