John Mellencamp Mural

Railroad Bill, Railroad Bill
Lived way up on Railroad Hill
Ride, ride, ride

Well, Railroad Bill, Oh, Railroad Bill
He never worked and he never will
Ride, ride, ride

Well, Railroad Bill, he was a mighty mean man
He shot the midnight lantern out of the brakeman's hand
Ride, ride, ride
--Lyrics to the folk song “Railroad Bill”, the first song John Mellencamp learned to play on guitar. (According to a 2009 NPR interview)

Musician John “Cougar” Mellencamp, born in October, 1951, says that the first song he learned to play was “Railroad Bill”. He struggled to make his mark in the early years, but eventually rose to stardom and was inducted as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Some of his more famous songs include "Small Town," "Jack & Diane," "Hurts So Good," "Pink Houses," "I Need a Lover," "R.O.C.K in the U.S.A.," and "Rain on the Scarecrow," His music features in numerous movies and TV shows, while John has acted in movies including Falling from Grace, It’s About You, and After Image.

If you walk two blocks to the west of This Old Guitar, you will find a crosswalk (by the Seymour library parking lot) on Walnut Street painted with the opening notes for John Mellencamp’s song "I Was Born in a Small Town."

Larger-than-life images of Mellencamp appear on the wall of This Old Guitar, a building at 106 W. Second Street facing the railroad tracks. Artist Pamela Bliss portrayed 22 foot-tall John as a teenager wearing his Future Farmers of America jacket. A mature John leans alongside his younger self in a 35 foot-tall painting. During the six-week-long installation in early October, 2019, John Mellencamp himself visited the work-in-progress and painted his initials on the guitar: JJM. Cougar is neither his last name nor his middle name. After only 2 months, the owner of This Old Guitar, Larry McDonald, had given about 500 tours including people from Australia, Russia, Canada, all across the United States, and about 300 Future Farmers of America members.



106 W 2nd St, Seymour, IN 47274