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Pop's Small-town Boys

May 18, 1986

I must take issue with Robert Hilburn's statement comparing Bruce Springsteen with John Cougar Mellencamp ("Back Home in Indiana," May 11). He states that in their songs, "My Hometown" and "Small Town," respectively, they both "spoke about the virtues of family, friends and community ties.

This is true only of Mellencamp. Springsteen tells about the reality of small-town life: ". . . fights between the blacks and the whites, there was nothing you could do . . ." and about ". . . Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores. . . ."

He ends his song with a lyric revealing that, "Last night me and Kate we laid in bed talking about getting out. . . ." Hardly a celebration of the virtues of small-town life.

The difference is that Springsteen is a writer. Mellencamp is a kid trying to make enough noise so that the grownups will notice him. His lines read like the writing you see in newspapers about what's going on in the heartland rather than the hidden vein of human experience that Springsteen is trying to bring out.

It's the difference between an artist and a rock musician.

NED WYNN

Los Angeles

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