John Mellencamp Quotes

Johnny Cougar

John Mellencamp quotes: on creating, aging, being a control freak, how the music industry has changed, and more.

“Your life is now!”

“Life is short even in it’s longest days.”

“What is there to be afraid of?  The worst thing that can happen is you fail.  So what?  I failed at a lot of things.  My first record was horrible.”

“There is no reward in this world for settling for something you don’t want.”

“Most people in life, give up too early.”

“It’s what you do and not what you say.  If you’re not part of the future, then get out of the way!”

“Regret should be handled swiftly, and you shouldn’t hold onto it.  People spend their entire lives regretting what they didn’t do and what they should’ve done.  Hey, man, you did what you did.”

“When people are afraid, they make emotional decisions.”

“When you live life for yourself it’s hard on everyone.  And that hasn’t changed.”

“An honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind.”

“Grace, mercy and forgiveness will help a man walk tall.  Walk tall!”

“I have a bunch of information in my head that I’m not afraid to put in song or onto a canvas.  Into any conversation.”

“I’m using my art to comment on what I see.  You don’t have to agree with it.”

“It’s my responsibility as a singer-songwriter to report the news.”

“You have to reinvent yourself.”

“I wanted to study at the Art Students League in New York when I was young, but I didn’t have the money.  Then I was fortunate enough to become Johnny Cougar Mellencamp.  At the time, I thought I’d make a couple of records and get back to painting.  It never dawned on me that I’d be 64 years old and still making music.”

“I ended up writing songs and growing up in public with my songwriting.  And it’s a good thing for me back then: in the early ’70s, there was a thing called artist development, where an artist could find his feet, find himself, find his voice.  I think I made five or six albums before I sold five or six albums.”

“One quality of a good songwriter is to be vague.  A vague notion, a vague image, but enough to give the listener the opportunity to make more out of what’s being said than is there.”

“It sounds funny, but I always try to keep an open mind about what I’m writing about.  Sometimes I squeak my opinions in there, but generally I don’t.  I try to be objective about things that I’m writing about.”

“Everything I see and hear – I will take ideas from anyplace, anywhere, anytime, and life has become a song to me.  I’m always looking for a song.”

“I’ve never had anybody produce my records.  I’ve always produced my own records.  I’ve worked with a guy for a while who was an engineer who helped me produce records, but I’ve always made my own records.  I’m a control fanatic.  I’ve got to control everything.”

“This cycle of make a record, tour, has been going on for 20 years now.  I don’t even know why I do it sometimes.  Do I need more money?  Do I need more platinum and gold records?  The only thing I can think of is ego.”

“I’ve just been fortunate to have had a lot of hit records.”

“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, when there was still a record business, there was pressure on anyone who was fortunate to have a few hits on a major label to continue that success.”

“Now I do have a choice, and I’m not going to do anything I don’t want to do.”

“The joy of making music and the joy of writing the songs is reward enough for me.”

“As I get older, I have a different look on life.  I just try to be a little more tolerant and a little bit more centered about what’s going on around me and not so emotional.”

“I have talked about myself for 40 years.  I just do certain things and I’m doing the same thing that I did when I was a young guy.  I paint, and I write songs, go out and play ’em, and make records.  And I’ve been playing in rock bands since I was 13.”

“I have always been driven.  I guess work is the wrong word.  I think it’s life.  I am trying to live an artist’s life, and I have always tried to live an artist’s life.  And by living an artist’s life it means that you would have to create art of some sort.  I’m using the term very loosely when it comes to me, but I try to live that life.”

“I want to do something every day.  I want to learn something every day.  I want to make something every day.  I have to make something every day.  Every day.  Whether it’s a painting, whether it’s a song.  Even if it’s just a couple sketches.  I have to make something every day.  And I also work out.  And if I skip working out I feel guilty about it.  If I go for a day and don’t make anything I feel guilty about it.  It’s like, ‘You lazy bum.  Get up there and get going.'”

“I’m 65 years old and I can see the finish line from here.  I only have so many summers left, and I intend not to waste them being old, and feeling sorry for myself, and sitting around and complaining about how bad I feel.  But if I have a plan it’s that I am going to make something every day, I’m going to try to learn something every day, and I’m going to try to make the most out of however many summers I have left.”

“Ain’t that America, home of the free?  Little pink houses for you and me.”

“Don’t ever lose that innocent laughter, don’t let time take that away.”

“There is nothing more sad or glorious than generations changing hands.”

“Take ‘Jack & Diane.’  I was so disgusted with people thinking the line ‘Hold on to 16 as long as you can’ meant to stay a teenager forever.  What I meant was keep doing whatever makes you feel alive.”

“Growing up leads to growing old and then to dying.  And dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun.”

“They say life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.”

Follow these up with Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty quotes.

About the author: Your mom’s hairdresser’s stepson’s third favorite writer. Net worth: $11 million. Told me to tell you to watch this video.