Friday, March 11, 2005
I forget the name of the film, but someone asks James Dean what he's rebelling against, and he replies: "What you got?". There are no end of songs that deal with teenage rebellion, but this one sort of sums them all up. John Cougar Mellencamp has been labouring for most of his career in the shadow of the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bob Seger as sort of heartlands troubadours, glorifying the simplicity and honesty of the midwest US. I don't buy that myself, but I do buy Mellencamp's honesty and ethic. This is almost a cartoon song, trying to encompass as many perceived teenage injustices as possible, but it's neatly wrapped up in the chorus: "I fight authority/Authority always wins", and lines like: "I call up my preacher, I say "give me the strength for Round Five"/He says "You don't need no strength/You need to grow up, son"/I said "Growing up leads to growing old/And then to dying/And dying to me don't sound like all that much fun". It's all strung over a vaguely rock/country/billy beat that chunters along in a gunslinger sort of way, and you get the feeling that Mellencamp wrote this one in front of the mirror in his bedroom.