Thirty eight years after it’s release, it is hard to imagine that Jack & Diane, from the album American Fool almost didn’t make it. The song had what can only be described as a difficult birth with everything from John himself ready to give up on the song, to record company execs forcing lyrical changes if it was ever to be released.
John originally wrote the song about the rise in mixed race relationships he was seeing around him. Originally Jack was an African American, but John eventually caved in to the record company and changed the song so that Jack was a football star. This in turn changed the entire song to be more about a small town upbringing.
This simple change (while difficult at the time) was rather fortuitous as it gave rise to John Cougar’s ‘working man for Mid West America’ stance, and turned Jack & Diane into his greatest ever commercial success.
One of the most interesting aspects of the song, was John’s desire to make it like Phil Collins’s In The Air Tonight. A ballad with huge drums coming in half way through. Just like In The Air Tonight, Jack & Diane starts with a drum machine, in this case a Linn. Then in comes Kenny Aronoff with a huge drum break, and to make sure they were as big as possible, and just like on In The Air Tonight, gated reverb was used.
Unlike In The Air Tonight however, the gated reverb was provided by the then new AMS RMX16 with it’s in built Non Lin 2 gated reverb patch. The rest they say, is history!