John Mellencamp has been R.O.C.K.ing in the U.S.A. with singer/songwriter India.Arie and rapper Chuck D in the past few weeks for an album due later this year.
Arie, who released her debut album, Acoustic Soul, in March, flew to Mellencamp's hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, after appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in Chicago early last week, to record a song called "Peaceful World."
"It's gonna be his first single," Arie said on Tuesday. She described the song as "that John Mellencamp thing, with guitars and fiddles, and singers and vocal stacks and vocals coming in and out. ... The first time I sang it, I was like, 'I like this.' And by the end I was just in there singing, 'Come on, baby.' I love it."
Arie also said Mellencamp invited her to tour with him in November. A spokesperson for Arie's management company said Arie would love to make such a tour happen, although there are no firm plans. Mellencamp's publicist was unavailable for comment.
An earlier version of "Peaceful World," without Arie's vocals, made its debut during last month's broadcast of the Indianapolis 500, in a commercial for the Indy Racing League. Mellencamp's wife, Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp, an IRL spokesperson, said that version is scheduled to air again, in a promotional spot, during ESPN's airing of the league's next race Saturday from Richmond, Virginia.
Irwin-Mellencamp said the song is about race as well as racing, with lyrics "about people getting in other people's way."
The album, with the working title Cuttin' Heads, will follow up 1999's Rough Harvest. Mellencamp also recorded with country singer Trisha Yearwood, who said recently that she did harmonies on a song called "Deep Blue Heart."
In a post on the official Public Enemy Web site, Chuck D said he made the trip to Bloomington in early June to put a verse down on a song that he said addresses Mellencamp's disgust and confusion at the use of the "N" word. The rapper posted some lyrics, including the line, "It's wild 'cause I connect the word with pain/ Now some smile when they scream the name." A spokesperson for the rapper confirmed that the post was by Chuck D.
Mellencamp keyboardist Moe-Z wrote during an Internet chat last weekend that the first single should be out in August.
Mellencamp and band kick off a North American tour July 31 in San Diego, with homecoming shows scheduled for September 21 and 22 in Noblesville, Indiana. Mellencamp is slated to play Farm Aid, also in Noblesville, on September 29.
India.Arie teams up with Sade for a road trip that opens July 14 in Portland, Oregon, according to her management company. The tour originally had been scheduled to start in Vancouver.