Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Jack & Diane" -- a music video retrospective

I just read that quasi-folk artist John Mellencamp is running for office in his home state of Indiana. Honestly, it doesn't bother me. He fits the mold, and I somewhat support this musician-to-painter-to-politician move*. Plus, does anything really come out of Indiana or even all of Middle America these days? I mean, the state can't even get their time zone right, let alone Daylight Savings.

The classic radio anthem, "Jack and Diane" is really the beginning and end of Mellencamp's career. He would never make a better song or video. Of course "Small Town" and other hits came along, but this "little ditty" is his calling card.

Bubble windows tell the story (and narrate) "two kids growin' up in the Heartland". It's like watching Pop-Up Video, but gray. One of the things that makes this video stand out is the use of still photographs. I believe this is one of the first (if not the first) of the long line of music videos with still photos sprinkled in. Bruce Gowers (who also directed "Bohemian Rhapsody") definitely had something here. Videos like 2Pac's "Changes" owe a debt to Cougar and Gowers. How could viewer dislike baby pictures of famous people?

I think I once read somewhere that the clapping was not originally supposed to be in the song. It was to keep tempo in the studio, because the guitar licks are so anti-rhythmic. Also... I am not sure who the chick is with "Jack". I doubt it's Mellencamp's ex-wife (divorced a year earlier) or his future wife. Hired gun?
This is somewhat of a simple music video (as were all in that day), but still relevant and innovative. In 1982, MTV was basically all performance videos. "Jack & Diane" is pretty advanced. Showing stills and CGI was something reserved for the highly successful. Plus it has air drumming.

Video stats
Length: 4:10
Director: Bruce Gowers
Date: July, 1982
Est. Cost: unknown


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