John Mellencamp - Jack & Diane

John Mellencamp - Jack & Diane

‘Jack & Diane’ is a song written and performed by American singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, then performing as "John Cougar." Described by critics as a "love ballad", this song was released as the second single from Mellencamp's 1982 album American Fool, and was chosen by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as one of the Songs of the Century. It spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982 and is Mellencamp's most successful hit single.

According to Mellencamp, ‘Jack & Diane’ was based on the 1962 Tennessee Williams film Sweet Bird of Youth. He said of recording the song: "'Jack & Diane' was a terrible record to make. When I play it on guitar by myself, it sounds great; but I could never get the band to play along with me. That's why the arrangement's so weird. Stopping and starting, it's not very musical." Mellencamp has also stated that the clapping was used only to help keep time and was supposed to be removed in the final mix. However, he left the clapping in once he realized the song would not work without it. In 2014, Mellencamp revealed that the song was originally about an interracial couple, where Jack was African American and not a football star, but the record company persuaded him to change it.

John Mellencamp

In 1982, producer and guitarist Mick Ronson worked with Mellencamp on his American Fool album, and in particular on ‘Jack & Diane.’ In a 2008 interview with Classic Rock magazine, Mellencamp recalled: “Mick was very instrumental in helping me arrange that song, as I'd thrown it on the junk heap. Ronson came down and played on three or four tracks and worked on the American Fool record for four or five weeks. All of a sudden, for 'Jack & Diane,' Mick said, 'Johnny, you should put baby rattles on there.' I thought, 'What the f*ck does put baby rattles on the record mean?' So he put the percussion on there and then he sang the part 'let it rock, let it roll' as a choir-ish-type thing, which had never occurred to me. And that is the part everybody remembers on the song. It was Ronson's idea.”

Cash Box said that "this shuffling pop 'ditty'...has a certain power that hits to the heartland with a warm, descriptive storyline that’s both personal and universal." Billboard said that "The hooks here are in the storyline, which traces a blue-collar romance 'in the heartland' where Cougar hails from, capped by taut guitar and percussion." The 1982 music video featured Mellencamp and his then-wife, Victoria Granucci.

Some of Mellencamp's high school photos and home movies were used to make the video, which was pretty much an afterthought. His record company hired Jon Roseman Productions to make videos for the songs ‘Hurts So Good’ and ‘Hand To Hold On To.’ Paul Flattery, who worked for that production company, explained in the book I Want My MTV that Mellencamp made a special request after those videos were completed: "He said, 'Look, there's a song on the album the label doesn't believe in. But I do. Can you do me a favor and save one roll of film, shoot me singing the song, I'll give you some old photos and stuff and then you cobble it together for me? The song was 'Jack & Diane.' So we stole some editing time in LA. We projected slides on the edit room wall, and we had the tape-op wear white gloves to do the clapping. We didn't charge John a cent."

T-Shirt Sale

Label – Riva
Songwriter – John Mellencamp
Producers – John Mellencamp, Don Gehman


[Verse 1]
Little ditty 'bout Jack and Diane
Two American kids growin' up in the heartland
Jackie gon' be a football star
Diane's debutante backseat of Jackie's car
[Verse 2]
Suckin' on a chili dog outside the Tastee Freez
Diane's sittin' on Jackie's lap, he's got his hands between her knees
Jackie say, "Hey Diane, lets run off behind a shady tree
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks slacks and do what I please"
Say a, oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone
Say, oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone
They walk on
[Verse 3]
Jackie sits back, collects his thoughts for the moment
Scratches his head and does his best James Dean
"Well then, there Diane, we oughta run off to the city"
Diane says, "Baby, you ain't missin' a thing"
But Jacky say a, "Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone"
Oh yeah, they say life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone
So let it rock, let it roll
Let the Bible Belt come and save my soul
Holdin' on to sixteen as long as you can
Changes come around real soon, make us women and men
Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone
Oh yeah, they say life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone
A little ditty 'bout Jack and Diane
Two American kids doin' the best they can
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