John Mellencamp Wins ASCAP Founders Award

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The American Society of Composers and Publishers, more commonly known as ASCAP, saluted singer and songwriter John Mellencamp with its most prestigious honor, the Founders Award, at the performing rights organization’s Pop Awards last night (4/27) in Los Angeles. Talk show host Tavis Smiley presented Mellencamp with the award, whose past winners include Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Carly Simon, Kiss’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, and James Taylor.

Mellencamp has written such Top 10 hits as “Hurts So Good,” “Jack & Diane,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Pink Houses,” “Lonely Ol’ Night,” “Small Town,” “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” “Paper in Fire” and “Cherry Bomb.” In his acceptance speech, he expressed gratitude to the music industry he started out in. “I ended up writing songs and growing up in public with my songwriting. And it’s a good thing for me back then in the early ‘70s there was a thing called artist development, where an artist could find his feet, find himself, find his voice. I think I made five or six albums before I sold five or six albums. So it was lucky for me I came along at that time. Now, today, there is no artist development and I’m not sure I would want to become a songwriter today.”

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The reason why, he explained to the assembled, is that the Internet has devalued music. He urged the industry to protect the value of songs, warning, “if we choose to remain idle, then the quality of songwriting and the quality of music and the quality of the future of young songwriters is gonna diminish down to nothing important, and it’s just gonna be no artist development and our business will shrink away.”

Prior to the ASCAP Awards, Mellencamp taped an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on which he brought along his granddaughter, who stole the show. He performed his #1 hit “Jack & Diane,” which he confessed he doesn’t like to play any longer, and talked about hanging out with Bob Dylan.

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