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On this day in music history: October 2, 1982 - “Jack & Diane” by John Cougar hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by John Mellencamp, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Seymour, IN. Originally written as a ballad on acoustic guitar, Mellencamp will run into problems coming up with a full band arrangement. Former David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson who is one of the musicians playing on the track, will be instrumental in helping establish the songs’ tempo and final arrangement. Ronson will also suggest to the singer “Johnny, you should put baby rattles on there” to which Mellencamp will reply, “What the f*ck does put baby rattles on the record mean?”. They will decide to add a percussion break to the song with drummer Kenny Aronoff playing accents on the hi-hat while heavily emphasizing the back beat on the kick and snare drums, as Mellencamp sings the bridge over the top. This touch will become one of the most memorable parts of the finished record. The songs’ signature handclaps were initially recorded to keep time while the rest of the track was being recorded, and were to be removed during the final mixing. They will be left on, becoming another important element in the records’ success. Once the song is finished, Mellencamp will play it for executives at his label distributor Polygram, who are initially not enthusiastic about the “unconventional” song. But John will insist that it  be included, and they will relent to his wishes. When “Jack & Diane” begins receiving airplay as the “American Fool” albums’ first single “Hurts So Good” (#2 Pop) is still climbing the charts, they will release it as a single in July of 1982. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on July 24, 1982, it will climb to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The week that “Jack & Diane” takes the top spot on the Hot 100, “Hurts So Good” will still be in the top ten at #10, with both singles spending four weeks in the top ten together. In a recent interview with Tavis Smiley, John Mellencamp will reveal that “Jack & Diane” had originally been written to be about an interracial couple. When his record company dissuades him from saying that it is, he will reluctantly comply, a decision he states he will later regret. Though a few years later, in the music video for his 1987 single “Cherry Bomb” (#8 Pop), the retro styled video will  show a young couple, a black man and a white woman dancing together. “Jack & Diane” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

An important Jessica Simpson and orthodontist story

I got braces when I was in high school. During one appointment/torture session, what I thought was John Cougar’s “Jack and Dianne” started playing - but it was that Jessica Simpson song that samples it. I said out loud “what the fuck is *this* shit?” and the dental assistant told my dad. I had my Sega Genesis and AOL “privileges” taken away for two weeks.

Jack said “just because our last name means ‘sailor,’ it doesn’t mean you have to fucking talk like one.”