People still rock out to Mellencamp tune 30 years later - WDRB 41 Louisville News

People still rock out to Mellencamp tune 30 years later

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AUSTIN, In. (WDRB) -- An intersection, a white house, a run-down store, they are places people in Southern, Indiana pass now without thinking much about. But if you think back 30 years and look closely, you can almost still hear the music.

John Mellencamp made certain parts of the Hoosier State part of pop culture history. His song" Pink Houses" climbed the charts to the top 10 in 1984 and was even named one of Rolling Stone's "500 Best Songs of all time."

"I'm glad it's happened to a local boy," a Mellencamp fan said.

In those days, "the local boy" known as "Cougar" thought the hype surrounding him was going to be short-lived.

"I thought ten years from now, I'll be working at the 'Five n Dime' or something," Mellencamp explained.

Clearly he was made for music. He produced hit after hit. "Pink Houses" was one of the most popular, and this week is the 30th anniversary of the song's release.

"It is?" Mellencamp asked.

The man himself may not know it, but his fans certainly do. The video shaped the lives of teenagers 10 years before the Aegon Center dominated the Louisville skyline, and when Reagan was in the White House.

"I probably have the cassette at home," Lisa Eadler said.

More importantly, it put the towns of Seymour, Uniontown, Little York, and mainly Austin on the map.

"There were certain things that we wanted to happen in that video, and for whatever reason Austin, Indiana had all the necessary ingredients," Mellencamp explained.

WDRB revisited the spots and people the video made famous back in the 80s. Eveline Hensley owned the store where Mellencamp and local musician Harvey Goodin rocked out in the video. Goodin just passed away, the store is long gone, but Hensley still lives next to where it used to be.

"I remember my nephew was in the service at that time, and they were showing it to the servicemen and he kept saying 'well my aunt and uncle...that's their house.' They said, 'oh it is not,'" Hensley said.

What about the Pink House itself? Could someone go three decades and live in something that color? The house is still there, but now it's white.

"It was not an attractive color to begin with," former neighbor, Charles Hutchinson said.

Here's a little insider secret too: post production made the house a lot "pinker" than it actually was.

"It fit the song, but it really didn't fit the neighborhood," Hutchinson said.

The woman who lives inside didn't want the publicity, so she wouldn't leave the house during the music video shoot. She may not realize it, and it may seem crazy now, but the song was so popular, that others wanted a pink house.

MTV even launched a "Paint that Mutha Pink" Contest.The "estate" was in Bloomington. MTV got a good deal, but it turns out, it was right across the street from a toxic waste dump. Mellencamp ended up buying a different pink house, but the person who won it didn't even live in Indiana, and ended up selling it a short time later.

While a lot of what made the video unmistakably Indiana is gone, there are a lot of other parts that remain the same. The buffalo from Morgan's farm are still kicking, Jackson Heights trailer park looks a little less patriotic, but still exists, and then of course, there's the love for Mellencamp's music. That's something that may never change. Decades later, he remains one of the most notable Hoosiers of all time, still drawing a crowd that can't wait to belt out their favorite John Mellencamp tune.

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