In what could be called the Summit of the '80s Working Man Troubadours, and remarkably, the first time they have collaborated, for John Mellencamp’s 25th studio album Strictly A One-Eyed Jack he invited Bruce Springsteen to co-write and play on three songs, including the duet and video, “Wasted Days.”
On his first album in five years, John Mellencamp has included 12 songs told from the perspective of the titular "One-Eyed Jack," who may or may not be himself, figuratively, I suppose. As he recently told USA Today: "The most dangerous card in the deck is the one-eyed Jack. There’s only two of them, so generally if you get a one-eyed Jack, he has a sword behind his back and (the protagonist) tells you in the first song ("I Always Lie To Strangers"), don’t trust me, I’m gonna lie to you and I know you’re gonna lie to me. And the whole thing comes to a head in the last verse, 'this world is run by men much more crooked than me.' He’s telling you I know I’m a scoundrel, but the people you pay attention to are bigger liars than me. Hopefully, what the record tells people when they realize this is one guy’s voice telling you his life story is that it’s good not to give a shit."
Either way, at 70, he's older and much wiser now, and on Strictly A One-Eyed Jack he seems to be looking straight into the "one-eye" of mortality warning it that he's going to kick it down the road for another decade or so.