John Mellencamp is back with a new album, his first in just over two-and-a-half years.
Sad Clowns & Hillbillies is his 23rd studio effort and it features, quite prominently, Carlene Cash, the daughter of June Carter Cash and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash. John met Carlene when she was in the cast of the touring production of his and Stephen King's musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.
"I was at a rehearsal one day and during a break I picked up a guitar and started playing something and I heard somebody harmonizing with me and it was her. And it was like, 'Wow, that sounds good.' So that's the whole thing began and then we ended up doing like, I don't know, 200 shows together, and we sang on stage every night and one night I walked off stage for a moment and she was standing in the wings and I said, 'Carlene, we should make a record together.' And she goes, 'Yeah, yeah, let's do that.' And that's the way the whole thing started."
The album includes 13 songs and features a few other special guests. Martina McBride sings on the latest single, "Grandview," which was co-written by John's cousin Bobby Clark. And playing on that song is former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin and former Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch.
Mellencamp will be at Wolf Trap on July 3.