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John Mellencamp - Pink Houses (We Are One, Lincoln Memorial 2009)

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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Pink Houses on Wikipedia
"Pink Houses"
Single by John Cougar Mellencamp
from the album Uh-Huh
B-side"Serious Business"
Format7" 45 record
GenreHeartland rock
Writer(s)John Mellencamp
Producer(s)John Mellencamp, Don Gehman
John Cougar Mellencamp singles chronology

"Pink Houses" is a song written and performed by John Mellencamp. It was released on the 1983 album Uh-Huh on Riva Records. It reached #8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in early 1984. "Pink Houses" was ranked #439 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


  • 1 Origins
  • 2 Use in politics
  • 3 Music video
  • 4 Releases on albums
  • 5 In popular culture
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Recorded in a farmhouse in Brownstown, Indiana, the song was inspired when Mellencamp was driving along an overpass on the way home to Bloomington, Indiana from the Indianapolis airport. There was an old black man sitting outside his little pink shotgun house with his cat in his arms, completely unperturbed by the traffic speeding along the highway in his front yard. "He waved, and I waved back," Mellencamp said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "That's how 'Pink Houses' started."[1][2]

Mellencamp has stated many times since the release of "Pink Houses" that he's unhappy with the song's final verse. At an October 2014 press conference, he stated: "A long time ago, I wrote a song called 'Pink Houses.' Now when I hear that song, all I can think is: 'Why didn't I do a better job on the last verse?' If I had written it today, the last verse would've had more meaning."[3]

The song also served as a scathing critique of Yuppies and Reaganomics and the overall "Greed is good" atmosphere of the time.

Use in politics

In 2004, the song was played at events for Senator John Edwards' presidential campaign.[1] The song was also used at events for Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign.[4]

"Pink Houses" along with "Our Country" was played by Senator John McCain at political events for his 2008 presidential campaign. Mellencamp contacted the McCain campaign pointing out Mellencamp's support for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and questioning McCain's use of his music; in response, the McCain campaign ceased using Mellencamp's songs.[4][5]

In January 2009, Mellencamp played "Pink Houses" at We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 2010, "Pink Houses" was used by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) at events opposing same-sex marriage. At Mellencamp's instruction, his publicist sent a cease and desist letter to NOM stating "that Mr. Mellencamp's views on same sex marriage and equal rights for people of all sexual orientations are at odds with NOM's stated agenda" and requesting that NOM "find music from a source more in harmony with your views than Mr. Mellencamp in the future."[6]

Music video

Producers: Don Gehman, Little Bastard.
Director: Chris Gabrin.
First aired: December 1983.[7]
Shot in Southern Indiana locations such as Seymour, Austin, and Bloomington in August of 1983. The house appearing near the beginning (with man on porch) is located at 530 York Road in Austin, Indiana. The white, two-story gas station, bedecked in patriotic buntings and an American flag, was located on the SE corner at the intersection of Indiana State Road 250 and U.S. Highway 31 in Uniontown, Indiana (station no longer extant). The man with no shirt on and a straw hat who dances near the end of the video was Harvey Goodin, the mayor of Austin, Indiana in 1983 when the video was shot.

Releases on albums

  • Uh-Huh (1983)
  • "Rock for Amnesty" (1986)[8]
  • The Best That I Could Do (1997)
  • Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits (2004)

In popular culture

In the TV series Glee, glee club member Kurt Hummel discusses the meaning of the song with his father, and then covers it at the glee club.

The 2009 book Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage by Jeff Benedict uses Mellencamp's phrase to describe a "historic battle against eminent domain" from a right-libertarian perspective.


  1. ^ a b Pink Houses: John Mellencamp : Rolling Stone
  2. ^ Classic Tracks: John Cougar Mellencamp's “Pink Houses”
  3. ^ "John Mellencamp art exhibit set to open in DeLand". Orlando Sentinel. 
  4. ^ a b Amy, Argetsinger; Roxanne Roberts (February 6, 2008). "Mellencamp Music for McCain? Like Paper & Fire". Washington Post. Retrieved October 4, 2010. 
  5. ^ Mellencamp Asks McCain to Stop Using Tunes Archived June 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Perrin, Kathleen (October 4, 2010). "John Mellencamp: No "Pink Houses" for NOM". Prop 8 Trial Tracker. Courage Campaign. Retrieved October 4, 2010. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ ""Amnesty International To Get Album Royalties"". The New York Times. 

External links

  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

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