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"
Released July 1982
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded 1982 at Criteria Studios, Miami, Florida[1]
Genre Heartland rock
Length 4:16
Label WEA
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 wasn't supposed to be included in the finished song. It was recorded with the clapping in order to help keep tempo and then it was to be removed. However, he realized the song did not work without it.

The song was recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, was produced by Mellencamp and Don Gehman (with Gehman also engineering), and 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:

"Mick was very instrumental in helping me arrange that song, as I'd thrown it on the junk heap. Ronson came down and played on three or four tracks and worked on the American Fool record for four or five weeks. All of a sudden, for 'Jack & Diane,' Mick said 'Johnny, you should put baby rattles on there.' I thought, 'What the fuck does put baby rattles on the record mean?' So he put the percussion on there and then he sang the part 'let it rock, let it roll' as a choir-ish-type thing, which had never occurred to me. And that is the part everybody remembers on the song. It was Ronson's idea."[3]


Chart (1982) Peak
Canada (RPM)[4] 1
Netherlands (Gfk)[5] 32
South Africa[6] 12
United Kingdom (UK Singles Chart)[7] 25
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 1
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[8] 3
US (Cash Box)[9] 1


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

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.

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."

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.

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.

Kenny Chesney's song "I Go Back" mentions Jack and Diane in its opening line.

MKTO's 2014 song "American Dream" claims Jack left Diane thirty years ago.[10]

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.

The single "No Such Thing as A Broken Heart" by Old Dominion mentions "Jack and Diane" in the opening verse as a love interest.

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

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. 
  2. ^ "Mellencamp discusses Jack and Diane". Soundcloud. 
  3. ^ John Mellencamp, Classic Rock, January 2008, p.61
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  5. ^ Steffen Hung. "John Cougar - Jack & Diane". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  6. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1965 - 1989 Acts (M)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 2016-11-03. 
  7. ^ "John Cougar - Jack and Diane". Chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  8. ^ a b Jack & Diane at AllMusic
  9. ^ "Cash Box Top Singles – 1982". Cash Box. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  10. ^ "Mkto - American Dream Lyrics". Songlyrics.com. 1995-11-03. Retrieved 2016-11-03. 

External links[edit]