[Thank you, Phil Weisman, for sharing this clipping about Farm Aid III.]
September 21, 1987
LINCOLN, Neb. Fleeting remarks and lasting impressions from a full day at Saturday’s Farm Aid.
Most valuable players through out the evening’s part of the program were the members of John Cougar Mellencamp’s red-hot band. After providing hard edge accompaniment for Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” they gave John Prine the sort of rough-hewn, roots-rock backing that he’s been missing since he quit working with Chicago’s Famous Potatoes.
The closing set by Mellencamp and band was one of the event’s most rousing. On “Small Town” and “Pink House” the accordion and fiddle of his band’s expanded lineup fit just fine with the rock n’ roll rhythm section. The two-song set, way too short for most of the crowd, provided a taste of what wil likely be one of the fall’s strongest tours.
While Willie Nelson received most of the credit throughout the day, and deservedly so, Mellencamp has also been a driving force behind Farm Aid during its three-year existence. Both Reed and the Crusados thanked him specifically for enlisting their participation.
The most inspired music that was heard by no one at home came courtesy of Neil Young. “Ain’t singing for Pepsi, ain’t singing for coke,” he sang. “Ain’t singing for nobody, it makes me look like a joke. This note’s for you.” While Young slammed corporate sponsorship, the broadcast had cut to another commercial.
David Alvin has the distinction of being the only performer to play each of the three Farm Aids, as part of a completely different band. He was with the Blasters at the first Farm Aid, a member o X at the second and the leader of his own band, the Allnighters at Farm Aid III.
The man who was formerly known as a songwriter and guitarist demonstrated that he had already become a far more confident singer than when he cut “Romen’s Escape,” his recently released debut album as a solo artist. His afternoon set, mixing country ballads and hard-rock ravers, was one of the event’s highlights.
Dennis Hopper, who was raised on a Kansas farm, introduced country singer Lynn Anderson to the crowd as an “easy rider,” who offered to share her bus with other performers who needed a ride to Lincoln.
He later told the TV audience, “Big companies are interested in big profits. Period.” an economic analysis that was sure to endear him to corporate America. “Who would you rather see own America?” he asked.
Events such as this inevitably produce a rash of Bruce Springsteen rumors. The day before the concert, the talk of the town was dominated by eyewitness accounts of Springsteen and Nelson enjoying dinner at a Lincoln country club. It never happened, according to officials at the country club.