John Mellencamp is no stranger to mixing music with politics. For over 35 years, the legendary Heartland rocker has been writing songs that draw attention to the struggles, culture and politics of the country.
On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the musician has released a politically charged new single titled, “Easy Target,” which he describes as “a reflection on the state of the country.”
Mellencamp debuted the song in a world exclusive on Yahoo News Thursday. Ahead of the performance, he sat down with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric to discuss the inspiration behind the song, the Trump inauguration, and his views on a divided country.
“As fast as I could write is how long it took me to write the whole song,” Mellencamp told Couric. “I was just daydreaming, probably, as I was going through the motions and all of a sudden I just started singing that song, as if the song was an old song that was written in full.”
“Easy Target” tackles some tough issues facing this country, such as gun violence, race and poverty. “Slowly but surely this country changes by the men we admire and I’m very aware of that,” Mellencamp said. “The country is changing by what has happened and, you know, ‘welcome to Suckertown.”
Mellencamp, a lifelong Democrat and Indiana native, also spoke to Couric about President-Elect Trump, whom he has met before. “You don’t really know what he’s really going to do or what because he says one thing and does another. You know, ‘we’re not going to have Wall Street involved’ and his whole cabinet is Wall Street. I’m just going to sit back and see how weird it gets.”
Friday’s inauguration will feature various music artists but many singers and musicians turned down the opportunity to perform. If asked, Mellencamp said he would have declined the offer. “I don’t view it as an opportunity,” he said. “This is where I fall into that Midwestern mindset. It’s not really an opportunity. You’re being used.”
In addition to “Easy Target,” Mellencamp is releasing a new album, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies, later this spring that features Carlene Carter, the daughter of country music legends June Carter and Carl Smith. Mellencamp and Carter toured together last year on Mellencamp’s Plain Spoken tour and decided to collaborate on album after writing a few songs together. It will include songs that each will sing alone as well as duets.