The classic rock icons recently collaborated on a new duet titled “Wasted Days.” While promoting the track, Mellencamp called in to SiriusXM’s E Street Radio and waxed poetic about his relationship with Springsteen.
“I would consider Bruce now, one of my better friends in the music business. Bruce and I talk quite a bit,” Mellencamp revealed. “I think he and I relate to each other because we’ve had similar experiences of growing up in a small town. Starting out, big band leaders.”
Mellencamp went on to recall the first time he and Springsteen performed together.
“In the 80s, I was playing down in Laguna Beach [Calif.]. Bruce came up on stage with me and played ‘Way Back Then,’” Mellencamp explained. “I’ve played with a lot of people, but I always thought the one thing that I had going for me was on stage, that I had a certain charisma on stage and that, that’s how we got over, because I wasn’t afraid to make a fool of myself.”
Sharing the stage with Springsteen, however, proved to have an entirely different feeling.
“Bruce came on stage … And I remember this, he was the only guy that I ever sang with — and I’ve sang with a lot of people — that I could feel his presence next to mine. I always felt like, you know, whoever I was singing with that I was overshadowing them because of my presence. But when Springsteen came on stage, it was like, ‘Jesus Christ, this guy’s got some energy.’”
Despite teaming up in the ‘80s, Mellencamp admitted he didn’t become close friends with Springsteen until much more recently, when the rockers joined forces at Sting’s 2019 Rainforest Benefit concert.
“At the rainforest thing, Bruce and I connected and we just started talking and the next thing you know, we’re talking all the time and, he’s like my, like my big brother now,” Mellencamp confessed. “Now I talked to him about everything, everything and anything. So it’s very fortunate that people our age can make a connection with someone else who has a similar background. And we have more to talk about then just meeting a fan or someone that you grew up with, because when you grow up with somebody, you have a long time to talk to them.”
Even as the rockers have grown close, Mellencamp continues to admire Springsteen.
“Bruce, for guys like me, I am a couple years younger. He put down a big footprint, and he said here fill it,” Mellencamp explained. “He inspired a lot of people to work a little bit harder than they normally worked. Cause we all know the musicians are lazy bums. [laughs]”
John Mellencamp Albums Ranked
A pre-fab pop singer turned heartland rocker turned rootsy moralist, John Mellencamp has had almost as many career turns as names.