“Pink Houses” by John Cougar Mellencamp is the song I have chosen for my discussion of protest songs. “Pink Houses” is a song that talks about America and its problems with poverty and social classes.
Mellencamp’s song begins with the lyrics “There’s a black man with a black cat, Livin’ in a black neighborhood. He’s got an interstate runnin’ through his front yard. You know he thinks he’s got it so good.” These lyrics suggest that this man thinks he’s got it good in life, but in reality having an interstate in your yard is not ideal. Mellencamp got the idea for pink houses when he was driving in Indianapolis, and saw a black man sitting on his front porch. The man’s house was pink. Mellencamp waved to the man, and the man waved back. This part of the songs refers to poverty, because Pink Houses were houses in the “projects.”
The song “Pink Houses” really makes people rethink what the “American Dream” is. When think of the “American Dream” we (I) think of an all American family, happy as can be hosting a barbeque with friends, the “American Dream” could just be a good life with freedom. In “Pink Houses” gives scenarios that are bad but truly are what many Americans go through. The chorus is “Oh, but ain’t that America, for you and me. Ain’t that America something to see, baby. Ain’t that America home of the free, yeah?” These lyrics show that America isn’t always the “American Dream.”
Another part of the songs says “Well, there’s people and more people. What do they know, know, know? Go to work in some high rises and vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico. Ooh yeah, and there’s winners and there’s losers, but that ain’t no big deal. ‘Cause the simple man, baby pays for the thrills the bills the pills that kill.” The lyrics suggest the difference in social classes. Some people who makes lots of money work in high rises, and go on vacation, while the simple man has to work harder. When he says there are some winners and losers, this suggests that even though the American ideal is everyone is created equal, there are still people who are superior to you, and that’s normal.
“Pink Houses” is a song that has strong statements about American ideals. This is why I believe it is a protest song.