Gov. Walker loves Mellencamp’s music, feeling not mutual

John Mellencamp performs before Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally at the American Civil War Center at the Historic Tredegar Ironworks Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)John Mellencamp performs before Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally at the American Civil War Center at the Historic Tredegar Ironworks Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” may be for “you and me” but they are not for the likes of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, or other conservative groups or politicians, a message the liberal rocker has made clear on several occasions.

With campaign season in full swing, Mr. Walker has hit the road stumping for re-election and has chosen one of Mr. Mellencamp’s songs, “Pink Houses” to play over loudspeakers at the rallies.

And the 80s star, who first became famous as John Cougar and then John Cougar Mellencamp, is not happy, though he is not demanding the Republican governor stop.

In 2011, Mr. Walker effectively ended collective bargaining for most of Wisconsin’s pubic workers, over massive protests that were supported by Mr. Mellencamp and other liberal musicians, including Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, and Pete Seeger to name a few.

Mr. Mellencamp rebuked Mr. Walker for playing “Small Town” during the recall election in 2012 that followed the collective bargaining debacle. His publicist emailed the campaign, telling it that the musician supports collective bargaining and union rights.

Mr. Mellencamp has not directly contacted Mr. Walker’s campaign this year about the use of his song, but he still supports collective bargaining and unions.

“Nothing has changed since the last time Gov. Walker ran for election,” Mr. Mellencamp’s publicist, Claire Mercuri, told The Associated Press.

For his part, Mr. Walker claims he has been a fan of Mr. Mellencamp’s music for years and will continue playing his songs at campaign events.

“You don’t have to agree with his politics to like his music,” Mr. Walker said.

This is not the first time conservative politicians and causes have used Mr. Mellencamp’s music despite his objections. 

When the National Organization for Marriage, a group opposed to same-sex marriage, played that same song at events in 2010, Mr. Mellencamp’s publicist contacted the group and told them that the musician was a gay marriage supporter, and suggested that it choose a different song to pay at its events.

In 2008, then Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona was playing Mr. Mellencamp’s “Our Country” at campaign events, and he was also the recipient of a letter, reminding the senator of the musician’s liberal leanings.

Liberal politicians have used Mr. Mellencamp’s music while campaigning and he has not taken issue. Former Sen. John Edwards played “Pink Houses” at campaign events in both 2004 and 2008, and Mr. Mellencamp himself played that very song at President Obama’s inauguration celebration in 2009.

Nor is Mr. Mellencamp is not the only liberal musician to ask a conservative politician to back off.

In 2012, then vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, said that he was a fan of Rage Against the Machine. Mr. Morello sounded off on Mr. Ryan in Rolling Stone, saying “Paul Ryan is the embodiment of the machine our music rages against.”

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About the Author

Jennifer Pompi

Jennifer Pompi is a general assignment reporter and afternoon slot editor for The Washington Times. Previously, she worked as an editor for AOL/Patch, covering hyperlocal news in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties in Maryland. She can be reached at jpompi@washingtontimes.com.

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