Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Jack and Diane: a little ditty about Generation X

As age fifty approaches for me, I am no doubt beginning to look nostalgically upon the significant times and unique influences in my life, and the music of the 80s tops that list. While driving to pick up my daughter from a friend's house earlier this year, the song "Jack and Diane" by John Cougar (Mellencamp) came on the radio, and I couldn't help but ponder how evocative of growing up in the early 80s that song became for me. And, a title for a piece of commentary occurred to me: "A Little Ditty about Generation X." That pondering became writing, and I was fortunate to find placement for it in the online pop culture magazine, Pop Matters. Here's a small preview:

In the summer of 1982, a "little ditty" about growing up "in the Heartland" became the most unexpected of anthems for a group of young people in the US later known as Generation X. At a time of emerging New Wave and the early rise of synthpop, John Mellencamp's breakthrough and most enduring song opens with an innovative guitar hook merging a raucous anthem rock chord that's quickly tempered with an innocent and oddly appropriate twangy clip. The contrast between the two sounds almost sweetly reflects the contrasting themes of the ditty – the loud brash promise of youth with a melancholy realization of the fading days of passion and innocence.