We All Come Crumblin’ Down

Dave Pell
2 min readMar 18, 2023


I saw John Mellencamp in SF last night. He’s 71 now, but the smoking has added a few years to that number. He’s always been a hit machine and a song writing savant, but what makes seeing him at this stage especially interesting is that so much of his early work was already about nostalgia for our younger years.

Consider Cherry Bomb.

17 has turned 35
I’m surprised that we’re still livin’
If we’ve done any harm
I hope that we’re forgiven

Got a few kids of my own
And some days I still don’t know what to do
I hope that they’re not laughin’ too loud
When they hear me talkin’ like, this to you

Or Minutes to Memories.

Another hot one out on highway eleven
This is my life It’s what I’ve chosen to do
There are no free rides, no one said it’d be easy
The old man told me this my son I’m telling it to you
Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can

Or Rain on the Scarecrow where we’re presented not just with nostalgia from an aging generation, but from an aging nation.

Well there’s ninety-seven crosses planted in the courthouse yard
Ninety-seven families who lost ninety-seven farms
I think about my grandpa and my neighbors and my name and some nights
I feel like dying like that scarecrow in the rain

Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow
This land fed a nation this land made me so proud
And son I’m just sorry they’re just memories for you now
Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow

So the question is, how does an artist who has been reflecting on getting older since he was young reflect on the same topic as he begins to enter the golden years for real?

Well, this 2008 song called Don’t Need this Body from Mellencamp provided a clue.

Well, all my friends are
Sick or dying
And I’m here all by myself
All I got left
Is a head full of memories
And a thought of my upcoming death

Ain’t a gonna need this body much longer
Ain’t a gonna need this body much more
I put in a ten million hours
Washed up and worn out for sure

Basically, we’ve gone from Hurts So Good, to just Hurts.

Thankfully, we can always go back to the days when we were so young we thought life would go on forever. John Mellencamp was old enough to reflect on that part of aging when he was still practically a kid. Jack and Diane, San Francisco, March, 2023. The good old days.



Dave Pell

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.