John.Cougar.Mellencamp-1983

Dear John: Advice from 1982’s John Cougar Mellencamp

If you have a problem and don’t know where to turn, send it in to Popdose’s newest advice columnist, rock n’ roll rebel circa-1982 “John Cougar.”

Dear John Cougar:

I have a very embarrassing name that I fear is hurting my chances of advancing in my career. It would devastate my parents, but should I change it?

This may surprise even the most faithful of you Cougars, but I gotta tell ya that John Cougar is not my real name. My God-given Christian name is Jean Couganberg. I’m a French Jew, and I’m real ashamed of that, on both counts. I probably shouldn’t have told you that.

Dear John Cougar:

This economy has affected everyone, and times are tough all over. What are some ways I can save money?

What you gotta do is you gotta join the John Cougar Fan Club. For $14.95 a year, you get a John Cougar Fan Club mesh baseball cap, and a bottle of my tobaccy spit-out juice, and also I come to your house and stay there for a week, so right there you’re getting a good price for clothes, food, and labor, cause ol’ John Cougar will chop up firewood and chase the raccoons out of the garage.

Dear John Cougar:

Sometimes I feel like I’m a man trapped in a woman’s body. Is this a psychological issue, or should I look into sexual reassignment surgery?

Like I said in that one song, “changes come ‘round real soon make us women and men,” but sometimes, changes bring ‘round what ol’ John Cougar calls “women-men.” They’re kinda one of each, but also kinda both, and also kinda in the middle. We got lots of ‘em runnin’ ‘round the woods in Indiana, outside the small town where I’m from. (I am from a small town.) But if’n the good Lord didn’t decide to make you of them what has the genitals of both sexes on the outside what with to impregnate yourself, you can sure as heck do the surgery with an axe, chicken wire, and other stuff you can find in any small-town hardware store.

Dear John Cougar:

I’m not looking for advice, really. I just wanted to know the story behind “Pink Houses.” That title sounds pretty gay.

It was supposed to be a typo until those stooges at the record company done went and made ol’ John Cougar change it. It was called “Punk Houses,” and it’s about the time-honored small town tradition (I am from a small town) of keeping on the edge of your property, farm, or prison yard, a lean-to full of punks. By punks, I mean the traditional sense of the word, which ol’ John Cougar means drug-addled underage male-only runaways with which to have sex. “Punk Houses” was about my dozen or so punk houses, but they made me change it to “Pink Houses” and I agree with you.

Dear John Cougar:

I’m having what I’m pretty sure is a mid-life crisis. Life just doesn’t seem exciting to me anymore, so I’m trying to recapture my youth. How do I make peace with aging?

Like I said in my song, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone, which is true. Especially if you’re like ol’ John Cougar and you’re an immortal being. Let me tell you what boy, life ain’t full of too many surprises when you’re 948 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t no vampire, none of that True Blood hogwash. I’m a shapeshifter, like one of those hairy fellas on that HBO show The Newsroom. Back in ’78, some scientists found me in the woods outside of a small town in Indiana where I’m from (I’m from a small town). At that moment, I was a cougar, so when they cleaned me up and turned me into a pop singer, they made me abandon my name and called me John Cougar, which is sort of ironic, as’n my real name is Couganberg.

Dear John Cougar:

Is it okay to change yourself for someone you love?

I can tell you I know what I am talkin’ about. Those scientist fellers done stole my blood and made a bunch of clones of ol’ John Cougar. Now that I am a real popular like rock n’ roll star and advice columnist, they gonna make me change my name again, so people don’t get me all confused by all the John Cougar cougar clones runnin’ around, causin’ trouble in small towns and big towns alike (I am from a small town). Came up with a new name for myself: John Mellencamp. I went to a robotics workshop at Carnegie Mellon last summer. Built me up a real good robot. “I sure did love that Mellon Camp,” I said to myself one night when I was eatin’ a raccoon in the woods and smokin’ a carton of smokes all at the same time. And that’s where I got that from and also I can’t spell real good.

Dear John Cougar:

A teacher accused me of cheating on a test. I didn’t, and I want to clear my name. What should I do?

Well, shit, if you fight authority, authority always wins. Like me, about 300 years ago I fought for the South during the War of the States. Indiana, which has the small town where I am from, is in the South, so while I do not support slavery, I do support geographic honor. The South went and fought the authority of the Union, and then the Union won so that’s why I wrote that song.

Dear John Cougar:

I can’t choose between the two girls I’m dating, and they’ve given me an ultimatum: choose or lose them both. How do I make up my mind?

Be careful with girls, brother. Sometimes they drive you crazy, and sometimes you need at least one of them to spawn. That’s what my song “Jack and Diane” is about. Us shapeshifters breed in threes, so that song is about me, Jack Kennedy, and Princess Diana tryin’ to make us up a baby to be the triple-king of three empires, uniting them forever: America, England, and the Royal Order of Shapeshifters. Hope that answers your question.

If you have a question for Circa-1982 “John Cougar,” write to askjohncougar at gmail dot com.




  • http://www.facebook.com/kingofgrief Jeffrey Thames

    If this is not made a weekly feature, pop journalism is dead to me.

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    That’s essentially what I told Boone when he brought it up (although I used the word “monthly” instead).

  • http://www.facebook.com/kingofgrief Jeffrey Thames

    In that case, I call for a revival of You Again? and/or Whoops! to help me bide the weeks. I also miss the Post-Nirvana Song Titles of The Steel Horse Archives.

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    I believe I will be bringing you other things to read and/or listen to in the coming weeks, Sir Thames. Patience! It will be rewarded.