This year has been eventful for John Mellencamp, who recently released his 24th studio album, Other People’s Stuff, and got engaged to his longtime on-and-off love, Meg Ryan. Even with a tour set and a wedding to plan in 2019, the singer is adding Broadway to his to-do list in the new year: “Jack & Diane” is getting the musical treatment.
“We’re getting ready to mount ‘Jack & Diane’ as a Broadway musical,” Mellencamp revealed in an interview with Today on Thursday (Dec. 13). “Every problem that this country’s going through today is in that musical.” Sternly declaring that the adaptation is not a jukebox musical, he added, “My ambitions are set very high. As close to Steinbeck as we can get it — in today’s world, with these two kids.”
Mellencamp didn’t divulge any further details about the musical — which a spokesperson confirmed was in the works — but did mention that these days he lives “an artist’s life,” spending time every day creating something — whether it’s painting, writing songs or touring — with the caveat that “art’s not being on the radio.” Calling radio airplay the “lowest common denominator,” the gravely singer (who scored 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits in the 1980s, with “Jack & Diane” hitting No. 1) said the majority of his best known songs “really weren’t that good as far as songs go.”
Though he doesn’t intend to slow down the work anytime soon — “retirement is an Indian word for slow death,” he quipped — Mellencamp is arguably the happiest he’s ever been in his love life. “I’m engaged at 67 to a very funny woman… funniest woman I ever met,” the thrice-married father of five said of Meg Ryan, who was previously married to actor Dennis Quaid, with whom she had a daughter; Ryan also adopted a daughter from China in 2006.
Laughing at interviewer Harry Smith’s description of his relationship with Ryan as a yo-yoing accordion that goes out and back, retracting and expanding seemingly on a whim, the notoriously cantankerous singer said, “One can well imagine I’m not the easiest guy to get along with… so, let’s leave it at that.” The couple first reportedly began dating in late 2010, reportedly splitting in 2014 and then reconnecting in 2017.
Ryan spilled the beans on the couple’s engagement last month in a sweet Instagram featuring a sketch of the pair holding hands. The two have yet to announce a wedding date, but Mellencamp’s 2019 plans are already holding true to his never-stop sentiment.