John Mellencamp reveals how collaborations with “big brother” Bruce Springsteen came about for his new album

Kevin Kane/Getty Images for The Rainforest Fund

John Mellencamp‘s latest studio album, Strictly a One-Eyed Jack, gets its release this Friday, January 21, and the lauded singer/songwriter shares some details about the project in a new interview with Forbes, including how he wound up collaborating with Bruce Springsteen on three songs.

Mellencamp says the collaboration came about “quite by accident,” after he and Springsteen played together at the 2019 benefit concert for Sting‘s Rainforest Fund.

“Bruce and I…met each other years ago, but we just knew each other enough to say hi. But we did a rainforest thing for Sting and…all of a sudden he was like my big brother, and he treated me like I was his sibling, and I treated him with respect,” John explains. “And then we became really good friends, and it just kind of happened. He came to Indiana, he stayed at the house. It was great.”

Springsteen appears on the songs “Wasted Days,” “Did You Say Such a Thing” and “A Life Full of Rain.”

Mellencamp tells Forbes that rather than a collection of disconnected individual songs, Strictly a One-Eyed Jack features 12 tunes he wrote from the perspective of a specific character.

“[A]ll the songs are really one guy speaking,” John notes. “It’s just one guy talking about his life, his future, his self.”

Mellencamp also addressed how his singing voice has changed as he’s gotten older, admitting he’s pleased with its weathered quality.

“I was happy when I heard me sing [the new song] ‘Gone So Soon,’ that I sounded like Louis Armstrong,” the 70-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer maintains. “It wasn’t anything I tried to do, it’s just that cigarettes take their f***ing toll on your vocal cords…But I’m happy that I sound that way.”

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