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John Mellencamp Says Rock’s Glory Days Are Over

Terry Wyatt, Getty Images
Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

For decades, rock was the center of the American music world, but that’s been changing for some time now — and John Mellencamp is one among a number of veteran rockers who doesn’t see it ever coming back.

As Sound and Vision reports, Mellencamp weighed in on the subject during a recent Q&A session conducted by the Direct Connection event series, pointing out that for many listeners who’ve grown up over the past couple of decades, music simply doesn’t hold the all-consuming power it did for the kids who made rock ‘n’ roll such a powerful cultural phenomenon.

“I’ve got two boys, 22 and 21, and I don’t think they ever sat down and listened to a whole album in their whole life,” said Mellencamp. “I read just the other day — I think it was Ray Davies — that rock ‘n’ roll is going to come back. It’s not going to come back. We’ve seen it. It happened … it’s like we had a 50-year run of a particular type of music and history will tell us that.”

Pointing out that rock is just one of many styles of music to have its turn on top of the charts, Mellencamp argued that it isn’t just cyclical tastes that have undermined the genre’s supremacy — it’s the way the industry has been hobbled by the proliferation of entertainment options for consumers.

“I’m not saying there aren’t great songwriters out there. There are,” he added. “But we’re never going to experience them the way we able to experience them in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. We’re not set up for that anymore.”

All that being as it may, Mellencamp hasn’t walked away from the record industry: his Sound and Vision talk was timed to help promote his new album, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies, which arrived in stores April 28.

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