Jack & Diane

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"Jack & Diane"
John cougar-jack diane s.jpg
Single by John Cougar
from the album American Fool
B-side"Can You Take It"
ReleasedJuly 1982
Format7" 45 RPM
Recorded1982 at Criteria Studios, Miami, Florida[1]
GenreHeartland rock
Songwriter(s)John Mellencamp
Producer(s)John Mellencamp, Don Gehman[1]
John Cougar singles chronology
"Hurts So Good"
"Jack & Diane"
"Hand to Hold On To"
Music video
"Jack & Diane" on YouTube

"Jack & Diane" is a 1982 hit rock song written and performed by American singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, then performing as "John Cougar." It appears on Mellencamp's album American Fool. It was chosen by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as one of the Songs of the Century. The single spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982 and is Mellencamp's most successful hit single.

Background and production[edit]

According to Mellencamp, "Jack & Diane" was based on the 1962 Tennessee Williams film Sweet Bird of Youth.[2] He said of recording the song: "'Jack & Diane' was a terrible record to make. When I play it on guitar by myself, it sounds great; but I could never get the band to play along with me. That's why the arrangement's so weird. Stopping and starting, it's not very musical." Mellencamp has also stated that the clapping was used only to help keep time and was supposed to be removed in the final mix. However, he chose to leave the clapping in once he realized that the song would not work without it.

In 2014 Mellencamp revealed that the song was originally about an interracial couple, where Jack was African American and not a football star, but he was persuaded by the record company to change it.[3]

The song was recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, and was produced by Mellencamp and Don Gehman (with Gehman also engineering). Backing Mellencamp were guitarists/backing vocalists Mick Ronson, Mike Wanchic, Larry Crane, drummer Kenny Aronoff, bassist/backing vocalist Robert Frank, and keyboardist Eric Rosser.[1]

In 1982, producer and guitarist Mick Ronson worked with Mellencamp on his American Fool album, and in particular on "Jack & Diane." In a 2008 interview with Classic Rock magazine, Mellencamp recalled:


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1982) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[5] 7
Canada (RPM)[6] 1
Netherlands (Gfk)[7] 32
South Africa[8] 12
United Kingdom (UK Singles Chart)[9] 25
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 1
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[10] 3
US (Cash Box)[11] 1

All-time charts[edit]

Chart (2018) Position
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 226

Cultural references[edit]

In music[edit]

The opening guitar riff and drum beat of "Jack & Diane" were sampled as a hook on Jessica Simpson's 2000 single "I Think I'm In Love With You", as well as the 1998 song "Rock Me" by AZ and Jermaine Dupri.

The 2004 song "I Go Back" by Kenny Chesney starts with the line, "'Jack and Diane' painted a picture of my life and my dreams".

MKTO's 2014 song "American Dream" includes the lines "This ain't the same summer song that you used to know/ 'Cause Jack left Diane thirty years ago".[13]

The 2017 song "No Such Thing as a Broken Heart" by Old Dominion starts with the lines "I wonder if Jack and Diane ever made it/ After the drums and the guitars all faded".

Jake Owen's 2018 song "I Was Jack (You Were Diane)" heavily samples the original song and references the original in its lyrics.

The Gym Class Heroes song Kid Nothing vs. The Echo Factor includes the lyrics "Could bore you to death with my past relationships / Or, a little ditty 'bout "Jack & Diane".

In film and television[edit]

John Mellencamp performs the song in a November 1982 SCTV episode titled "Indecent Exposure" which Mellencamp guest stars more or less as himself, playing a Mr. Hyde/Buddy Love type character in the segment 'The Nutty Lab Assistant'.

The song is parodied in The Simpsons episode "Three Gays of the Condo", when "Weird Al" Yankovic serenades Homer with a new version about Homer and Marge to convince him to move back home. A new version about TV credits plays during the credits. At The Simpsons Take the Hollywood Bowl, he would perform a full version of the parody.

The 2003 romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give billed its stars as simply "Jack & Diane" (i.e., Nicholson and Keaton), although the song itself was not used in the film.

In the American ABC sitcom Black-ish, the protagonist's six-year-old twins are named Jack and Diane.

The fourth episode of the Netflix sitcom Lady Dynamite is called "Jack and Diane", as Maria Bamford assumes the fictional identity of one Diane to date a man named Jack Tripper. The episode concludes with a song named "People Pleaser" that parodies "Jack & Diane", edited in the style of the original video.


Marvel Comics' comic Mutant X #18 opens with a variation on the opening lyrics of "Jack & Diane": "This is a story about Jack Lang and Diane Davidson. Two American kids from very diverse backgrounds."

Jack and Diane are the two Great Khans responsible for the Red Rocks Drug Lab in Fallout: New Vegas. All illegal "chems" in the game are said to originate with these two characters, either directly or indirectly, as Khans are the primary drug runners.

TF2 Youtuber Uncle Dane's 2016 derivative music video "Building on Last" adapts the song's subject to a common anti-cooperative player mistake in the game.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 (CD liner). John Mellencamp. U.S.A.: Mercury Records. 1997. p. 10. 314 536 738-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ "Mellencamp discusses Jack and Diane". Soundcloud.
  3. ^ Buxton, Ryan (23 September 2014). "John Mellencamp's 'Jack & Diane' Was Originally Written About An Interracial Couple". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 2 November 2019.
  4. ^ John Mellencamp, Classic Rock, January 2008, p.61
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  7. ^ Steffen Hung. "John Cougar - Jack & Diane". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  8. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1965 - 1989 Acts (M)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 2016-11-03.
  9. ^ "John Cougar - Jack and Diane". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  10. ^ a b Jack & Diane at AllMusic
  11. ^ "Cash Box Top Singles – 1982". Cash Box. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  12. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Mkto - American Dream Lyrics". Songlyrics.com. 1995-11-03. Retrieved 2016-11-03.

External links[edit]