Billboard #1 Hits: ‘Jack And Diane’- John Cougar. October 2, 1982. #1 for 4 weeks in Billboard Hot 100.
- Single’ Jack And Diane’- John Cougar
- Record Company-Riva
- Genre: Rock
- Written by John Mellencamp
- Time: 4:16
- B-side: ‘Can You Take It’
- Album- American Fool
- Grade: A
- Peaked at #1 4 weeks in Billboard Hot 100. #25 in UK Singles Chart, #1 in Canada.
This is the first John Cougar[ as he was still going by at the time] song that got my attention. He had 4 previous hits- but nothing that sounded exceptional to my ears.
Jack and Diane were a interracial couple in the first version of this song, inspired by the blended couples Mellencamp saw during his live performances (Jack was black, Diane was white). He took the race part out of it and made Jack a football star after an executive from his record company heard what he was working on and asked him to do so in an effort to make the song more relatable and therefore boost its hit potential. With race removed from the equation, a broader swath of Mellencamp’s audience identified with the song, especially in the Midwest. He says that lots of folks have told him that the characters are just like them.
A song about a high school couple falling in love, Mellencamp wrote “Jack & Diane” as a tribute to life in the rural working class. The inspiration was his hometown of Seymour, Indiana, which had a population of about 13,000 when it was released. The song has a very nostalgic feel, but paints a picture of a couple whose best years will soon be behind them. In a 1982 interview with The LA Herald Examiner, Mellencamp explained: “Most people don’t ever reach their goals, but that’s cool, too. Failure’s a part of what you’re all about anyway. Coming to terms with failed expectations is what counts. I try to write about the most insignificant things, really. I mean, someone who picks up a copy of Newsweek, then sits down and writes a song about the troubles in South America – who cares? What’s that song telling us that we don’t already know? Write about something that matters to people, man.”