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LISTENING IN: Boss the cherry on new Mellencamp classic

John Mellencamp has always been one of my favourites, especially when his early heartland style of rock began to incorporate Appalachian overtones in the mid ‘80s with such instruments as dulcimer, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, penny whistle, and especially accordion. That style deliciously returns here on his latest single, “Wasted Days” – with one more amazing addition: Bruce Springsteen.

Apparently the two great singer-songwriters have been pals for awhile and have performed together live in the past, but this is their first official collaboration.

And while I’ll concede that Mellencamp’s voice at age 70 has aged noticeably (in a gruff though not grating way), the 72-year-old Springsteen sounds better than ever.

“Wasted Days” (penned solely by Mellencamp) appears on his album “Strictly a One-Eyed Jack,” released last September, though it could easily fit on “The Lonesome Jubilee” (No. 1 in Canada in 1987). The album also features The Boss on two other tracks – “Did You Say Such a Thing” and “A Life Full of Rain.”

In addition to being a musical throwback, the song also shows the Indiana native at his lyrical best, as simple, poignant and insightful as ever (remember haunting lines like “Life is short, even on the longest days,” or, “Oh yeah, life goes on/ long after the thrill of livin’ is gone”?)

Together the words and music add up to a song as good as anything he’s done before. And Springsteen is just the cherry on top of the icing on the cake.

Lyrics

How many summers still remain
How many days are lost in vain
Who’s counting out these last remaining years
How many minutes do we have here?

Wasted days
Wasted days
We watch our lives just fade away to
More wasted days

How much sorrow is there left to climb
How many promises are worth a dime
And who on earth is worth our time
Is there a heart here that I can call mine?

Wasted days
Wasted days
We watch our lives just fade away to
More wasted days

How can a man watch his life go down the drain
How many moments has he lost today
And who among us could ever see clear
The end is coming, it’s almost here

Wasted days
Wasted days
We watch our lives just fade away to
More wasted days

Wasted days
Wasted days
We watch our lives just fade away to
More wasted days

Wasted days
More wasted days
We watch our lives just slip away to
More wasted days

First published at Travel Industry Today

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