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John Mellencamp talks with Bruce Springsteen about music, his art and painting:

Singer-songwriter John Mellencamp has been painting for as long as he has been making music. And before he progressed as a rock star, he was hoping to become an artist.

Now, after decades of building a great musical career, a collection of his paintings and compositions are on display at the New York Academy of Arts. And his latest release – this week – is a book of his artwork titled “John Mellencamp: American Paintings and Assemblages.”

The cover of his latest studio album, “Strictly a One-Eyed Jack”, is also a self-portrait. The album includes several duets with Bruce Springsteen, with whom she also painted.

“That was great, you know,” Mellencamp said of the time she painted a “huge” piece with Springsteen. “And he was really, really enthusiastic. He was really enthusiastic, and he worked really hard. I was proud of him.”

“In fact, if he came to my house again, it would be like, ‘Hey Bruce, let’s paint,’ and he would go, ‘Okay.'”

Mellencamp told CBS News that he used to watch his mother paint at his home in Indiana, and at some point he started painting over her.

In 1974, he left Indiana—where he was a vocalist in a cover band—for New York. He focused on taking art classes, but his musical talent caught the attention of record companies.

He quickly landed a record deal, and had some minor hits under the name Johnny Cougar. His fifth album, “American Fool,” was his breakthrough.

Mellencamp stated that three songs on the album – “Hurts So Good,” “Hand to Hold On To”, and “Jack and Diane” – were “hated” by the record company, but became top-10 singles.

“The good thing about it was that they never bothered me again,” Mellencamp said.

In the beginning, Mellencamp says, he tried to control his lyrics, but found that similar to painting, it was better not to second-guess himself.

He said, “I have learned it well, like painting, let painting go where it wants to go. True art is when the artist surprises himself.”

Over the span of Mellencamp’s career, he charted twenty-eight singles on the Billboard Hot 100. But his love for art will always be in the background and will be his sanctuary.

He called his art studio in Indiana “his favorite place in the world.”

“It’s cool. It’s just me, you know. Oil paint, and canvas, and cigarettes, and everything I love, you know,” Mellencamp said.

As far as what he gets from the art of painting, he said. “You walk up to a canvas and it’s you. You know, you have a problem,” Mellencamp said. “Look, everything’s a problem for me.”

He said he doesn’t yet know where he recently started One Piece is going. “I’ll find out something about it,” he said, looking at the painting-in-progress. “I will solve this problem.”

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