For the past quarter century, he has been penning and performing smart, often very political songs -- focusing on the farm crisis, economic hard times and race relations. He's been a key organizer of Farm Aid and other fund-raising events for good causes, and he's been a steady presence on the campaign trail in recent years, appearing at the side of numerous Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama.
So, could Mellencamp perform in the U.S. Senate?
Could he be the right replacement for retiring Senator Evan Bayh, D-Indiana?
Forget the blah-blah-blah about celebrities in politics. We crossed that bridge decades ago.
The question is whether this celebrity makes the right connections with this state.
Mellencamp certainly has the home-state credibility. Few rockers have been so closely associated with a state as Mellencamp with Indiana.
Mellencamp has a history of issue-oriented political engagement that is the rival of any of the Democratic politicians who are being considered as possible Bayh replacements.
And Mellencamp has something else. He has a record of standing up for disenfranchised and disenchanted working-class families in places like his hometown of Seymour, Indiana.
In other words, he's worthy of the consideration that has led to talk of a "Draft John Mellencamp" movement. In fact, he might be just enough of an outlier to energize base votes and to make independent voters look again at the Democratic column.