John Mellencamp – Jack and Diane – Learn English through Songs

Learn English by listening to the song "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp. Warning: this song mentions sex, so if you would not like to hear about it, please choose another song lesson.

There are 6 steps in this lesson:

1 - Learn the new vocabulary words and idioms
2 - Listen to the song without reading the lyrics
3 - Read the lyrics
4 - Understand the text with my explanations
5 -​ Write the answers to the personal questions in the comments
6 - Sing along to the song 

1 - Vocabulary and Idiom List

ditty - a short, simple song - this word is not used very often
the heartland - the central/most important part of a region or country. In the US, this refers to the Midwest, where lots of farming takes place
chili dog - a food that consists of a hot dog (a type of sausage) topped with chili (a thick, spicy sauce)
James Dean - a famous actor who was seen as extremely cool
Bible Belt - a region of the US (in the southeast part) - here, people are more religious than the rest of the country

 2 - Listen to the Song (without reading the lyrics)

​3 - Read the lyrics

Little ditty about Jack and Diane
Two American kids growin’ up in the heartland
Jackie gonna be a football star
Diane’s debutante backseat of Jackie’s car

Suckin’ on a chili dog outside the Tastee-Freez
Diane’s sittin’ on Jackie’s lap
He’s got his hand between her knees
Jackie say, hey, Diane
Let’s run off behind the shady trees
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks
Let me do what I please

Say a Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
Say a Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
They walk on

Jackie sits back
Reflects his thoughts for the moment
Scratches his head
And does his best James Dean

Well you know, Diane
We oughta run off to the city
Diane says, baby
You ain’t missing nothin’

Jackie, say-a Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
Oh yeah, they say, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone

Gonna let it rock
Let it roll
Let the Bible Belt come
And save my soul

Hold on to sixteen as long as you can
Changes come around real soon
Make us women and men

Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
Oh yeah, they say, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone

Little ditty about Jack and Diane
Two American kids done the best they can

​4 - Check your understanding of the complicated parts of the text

Is “Jackie gonna be a football star” standard English?

 

And what about “Jackie say…”?

 

What is going to happen during “Diane’s debutante backseat of Jacky’s car”?

 

What does is mean to “dribble off those Bobby Brooks”?

 

Does Diane want to run away to the big city with Jack?

 

​5 - Answer these questions in the comments below to get personalized feedback .

a) Do you live in the heartland of your country? What's your city or town like?

b) When you were in high school, what did you dream of becoming?

c)​ Would you rather live in a big city or a small town?

6 - Listen to the song again, and this time sing along!

​If you have any questions about this song, or recommendations for what my next song lesson should be about,, let me know in the comments below.

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