John Mellencamp and Keith Urban to Duet at CMA Awards
Rolling Stone reports that Mellencamp will be on hand at the CMA Awards on Nov. 4, and will take the stage to perform a duet with Urban — presumably a live rendition of Urban's wildly popular single, "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16."
Urban released the track to radio in June, explaining in a press release that the demo was sent to him early in the song-selection process for his upcoming album and immediately established itself as a strong contender after he delivered an impromptu acoustic performance at a gig in early 2015. "I loved it immediately — loved it so much that right before I walked out on stage at the Ryman for CRS a few months back, I thought I’d play the song solo acoustic to see what the audience thought," he said. "Flash forward, and there’s no doubt that their response that day helped make it the first single from ... my next album."
The "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" lyrics pay tribute to a number of rock and country legends, but it's Mellencamp's early-career stage name that gets top honors in the chorus, with lines like "I’m the child of backseat freedom / Baptized by rock ‘n’ roll / Marilyn Monroe and the Garden of Eden / Never grow up, and never grow old / Just another rebel in the great wide open / On the boulevard of broken dreams / And I learned everything I needed to know from John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16."
As Mellencamp fans are well aware, the manager-imposed "Johnny Cougar" name is one he never liked, and he took pains to distance himself from it as soon as he had any real control over his image, first calling himself John Cougar Mellencamp before striking the "Cougar" completely starting with 1991's Whenever We Wanted. "He’s obviously got mixed feelings on the name John Cougar," Urban told Billboard, admitting he avoided telling Mellencamp about the song at first. "I didn’t really want to get into all that."
Still, no matter how Mellencamp might feel about the name today, it's obvious that "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" comes from a place of deep respect. "His songwriting was such a huge part of my life," added Urban. "I almost feel like between all the TV I grew up with in Australia and John Mellencamp’s music — among many others — I knew what it meant to live there and grow up there."
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