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A Cougar By The Tail

September 22, 1985

I'm so glad Terry Atkinson finally exposed John Cougar Mellencamp's charlatan ways for us gullible readers ("Mellencamp's America," Record Rack, Sept. 8). So "he's been churning out superficially Springsteen-like songs" all these years?!

I don't pretend to be an expert in Mellencamp or Springsteen (as a critic should be) but my eyes and ears are open enough to have noted that Mr. Heartland ("Nebraska" album) himself (B-O-S-S) is a New Jersey resident and that Mr. Mellencamp (No--he doesn't have a title) was born, raised and still resides in Bloomington, Ind.

I was also tuned in to the Boss Channel when he proclaimed that he got into music for the money and women (What! The steelworkers haven't heard this yet?!). Whereas, good ol' Mr. Mellencamp married the girl he loved at age 16 and still lives with her (where?), yes, in Bloomington.

Today, Springsteen's married a model and changed his image (trading in his 10 o'clock shadow, soiled headband and ill-fitting clothes for tight-fitting jeans, ever-so-suave white shirts and Brian De Palma videos), whereas Mr. Mellencamp is still in good ol' Bloomington, I believe, producing small-town bands and heading the Farm Aid project with good ol' Willie Nelson.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against models, New Jersey, or even De Palma, and I laud Mr. Springsteen's (yes, he is, after all, only a man) honest and straightforward acknowledgment of his goals in his profession (ultimately, wine, women and song).

It's just the misled public (Mr. Atkinson among them) who have led themselves into a myopic connotation of a rock star who, in reality, has less idealism than Duran Duran, the Boomtown Rats, Paul McCartney and Rod Stewart.

No! Please don't anyone write in rebuttal. I don't expect anyone to believe that comparison, although it's undoubtedly true. What I think should be obviously true is that John Mellencamp is no charlatan any more than Bruce Springsteen ultimately is.

KATHERINE NEU

Woodland Hills

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