The Globe solves mystery of why Indiana songsmith snubbed Mayor Pete
John Mellencamp endorsed Mike Bloomberg for president this morning, even cutting a terrific TV spot, which we will surely see a hundred times a day thanks to the deep pockets of the former three-term mayor of New York City.
The endorsement surprised many. For one, the singer of hits like “Jack and Diane” and “Pink Houses” and co-founder of Farm Aid is thought of as a prairie progressive, so the embrace of the moderate, big-city recent Republican is a good “get” for Bloomberg. But also because it comes on the heels of a strong showing in the Iowa caucus by Mellencamp’s fellow Indiana guy, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The ad features the gravel voiced singer doing a verse from “Small Town,” one of three chart-topping singles from his 1985 album Scarecrow.
No one knows Small Town America like Indiana’s @johnmellencamp. He’s spent his life telling the stories of the people that live there and that work there.
But small towns in America are struggling. As president, I promise to fight for them. pic.twitter.com/vHMR7V9BRk
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 5, 2020
And then a narrator intones, “In small-town America, dreams hold fast, but good jobs seem like a thing of the past, and more and more of our kids have to leave in search of opportunity — making small towns smaller. Mike Bloomberg knows a little something about opportunity.” The ad continues along these lines before concluding, “Because small towns still have big dreams. And Mike intends to fight for them.”
Rock and roll endorsements for political candidates are hardly rare. This election has already seen Childish Gambino come out for Andrew Yang while Ariana Grande and Vampire Weekend support Bernie Sanders. And it’s hard to conclude they matter all that much, as anyone who remembers Bruce Springsteen’s indefatigable support for John Kerry in 2004 will bitterly recall.
But this particular pairing — a midwestern lefty who has championed poor farmers and a billionaire big city mayor who was a Republican until fifteen minutes ago—has been raising eyebrows on Twitter all day. (One clever tweeter responded to New York Times writer Nick Corasaniti breaking the news by commenting simply, “Authority always wins.”)
Rock and Roll Globe might be able to shed a bit of light on this mystery.
Until Mike Bloomberg’s first term began in 2002, his super sharp and competent director of communications at Bloomberg LP was Christine Taylor. After Bloomberg went to City Hall, Taylor went on to perform the same role for the businessman and investor Ronald Perelman and others. Taylor stayed in touch with the Bloomberg people and always remained loyal to Mike personally.
What’s less known is that one of Taylor’s closest personal friends is – you guessed it – singer songwriter John Cougar Mellencamp. This is not one of those “I hung out one night with a rock star and now refer to him as a ‘close friend’” friendships. This is a real and longstanding friendship, where they visit one another. If you know Christine Taylor, you know she’s not leaving Manhattan for Indiana unless it’s for a pretty special friendship.
So that might explain this unlikely marriage. And for Pete Buttigieg? It’s a lonely ol’ night.
VIDEO: John Mellencamp live at The Summit in Houston, TX 11/15/82