Why John Mellencamp Told Bob Dylan to ‘Quit Calling’ Him

Though John Mellencamp is a friend and admirer of Bob Dylan, at one point he had to tell the famed songwriter to stop calling him.

“Bob Dylan used to call me up in the middle of the night and read his lyrics to me that he was working on for new records,” Mellencamp recalled during a recent interview with Billboard. “And I finally told him, ‘Bob, would you quit calling me, because I’m not gonna say anything. I’m not a good sounding board because I like everything you do. I’m happy to hear this stuff, but I’m not that great of a sounding board.’”

Mellencamp, of course, is no slouch in the songwriting department either. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer recently released the 24th studio album of his career, Strictly a One-Eyed Jack. Joining him on three of the songs is another legendary musician, Bruce Springsteen. Mellencamp noted that he views the Boss the same way he looks at Dylan.

“There’s very few guys I ended up admiring, musically; Bruce and Bob are definitely two of those guys, and I’m happy to say I have a good relationship with both of them,” he admitted.

Dylan and Springsteen are among the classic rockers who have recently sold their respective song catalogs. Mellencamp hasn’t, though he remains open to doing it at some point.

“My opinion is it’s a good idea to do that, because if you leave it to your heirs, it’s just gonna cause trouble,” he opined. “If you leave them money they’ll know what to do with that. But they’re not gonna know what to do with songs, y’know? Only Bob Dylan knows what to do with Bob Dylan songs. Only Bruce knows what to do with his songs. I mean, he’s got one kid who’s a fireman, how’s he gonna know, ‘Should we allow this to be in this movie’ or whatever. They don’t know. It’s a big burden to put on your kids, and I think it’s very fortunate that these guys can (sell) like that. At one point it was so important to have ‘legitimacy,’ being in a rock band. Now it doesn’t seem mean as much. I mean, who ever thought these songs would be around this long and have this kind of value? I sure didn’t.”

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. 

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