John Mellencamp, at Forest Hills Stadium,” Joe Shlabotnik

September 28, 2020; Indianapolis Star

John Mellencamp, the ’80s pop star whose song “Crumblin’ Down” includes the lyric “I’m the same old trouble you’ve been havin’ for years,” caused a small stir at this year’s 35th anniversary Farm Aid charity concert.

Mellencamp, one of the event’s co-founders, has never been shy about his politics, which fits nicely with Farm Aid’s overall policy of supporting low-income farmers as they make their way in a largely corporatized environment. As it happened, the event featured a number of nods to Black and indigenous farmers. When Mellencamp sang his song “Easy Target” in front of a small crowd with “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts on and then took a knee, some measure of the online audience was miffed enough to demand their money back, a protest against bringing politics into what was for them an otherwise consequence-free good time.

David Lindquist of the Indianapolis Star writes, “Online viewers who complained about Farm Aid being too political should know the event’s entire purpose has been political for 35 years.”

For his part, Mellencamp’s Farm Aid co-founder, Willie Neslon, does not believe in bringing his politics onstage. So he says, anyway. But he did just release an animated video for his little ditty called “Vote ’Em Out,” which goes something like this: If it’s a bunch of clowns you voted in/Election day is comin’ ’round again/If you don’t like it now/If it’s more than you’ll allow/If you don’t like who’s in there/Vote ’em out.

Here it is for your listening and watching pleasure.—Ruth McCambridge