Sunday, February 19, 2017

John Mellencamp Collaborates With Carlene Carter On 4/21 Release of Sad Clowns & Hillbillies

Artist: John Mellencamp (featuring Carlene Carter)
Album: Sad Clowns & Hillbillies
Label: Republic Records
Release date: April 21, 2017

The new album features a mixture of songs written by Mellencamp and Carter, along with direct collaborations between the duo. On the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration, Mellencamp released the brooding political ballad "Easy Target," which addresses income inequality and Black Lives Matter.

Although initially billed as a duets album, Carter has stated in interviews that Sad Clowns and Hillbillies won't strictly consist of duets. “Sad Clowns and Hillbillies is a wonderful conglomeration of [John's] songs and my songs," she told Pacific University. "Some are duets and some are by themselves - it’s different, but really kind of the way John and I roll. We are very like-minded and on musical ground that really feels right. It’s been quite a wonderful ride."

In 2016, Mellencamp told USA Today: "We wrote a couple of songs together, and she wrote some and I wrote some." Mellencamp and Carter debuted "Indigo Sunset" and "My Soul's Got Wings" during their concert in Tulsa on April 1, 2016 (after opening the show, Carter joined Mellencamp during his headlining set for a performance of these two songs during most shows on the two 2016 legs of Mellencamp's Plain Spoken tour). "Indigo Sunset" was written by both Mellencamp and Carter, while Mellencamp wrote the music to "My Soul's Got Wings," giving life to a previously unheard lyric written by American folk singer Woody Guthrie.

Mellencamp said Sad Clowns and Hillbillies was borne out of his collaboration with Carter on the theater play and musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. He said through those that project and their time on tour together that the two became "singing buddies." Mellencamp gave insight into the genesis of the project to Yahoo's Katie Couric when debuting "Easy Target" in January, saying: "It's crazy the way it started - it was going to be a religious record. It started out like 'Look, lets go back and do an old country religious record. We'll try to write songs that sound like those songs, but they'll be new.' And then it just kept evolving and evolving and evolving, and the songs that she was bringing and the songs that I was bringing - they weren't so religious. I write a lot of sad songs, so it's like Sad Clowns and Hillbillies - that's where it came from."

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