Today's focus turns to an artist who was at the top of the rock world in the 80's, and who's influence has helped to guide the Farm Aid program for over 30 years. An artist from mid America who's rock always had a twinge of country to it, and who was once called one of America's 10 best songwriters by Johnny Cash.

The 25th anniversary MusiCares 2015 Person Of The Year Gala honoring Bob Dylan at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The annual benefit raises critical funds for MusiCares' Emergency Financial Assistance and Addiction Recovery programs.
photo courtesy of Frazer Harrison/ Getty Images Entertainment

Born and raised in Seymour, Indiana, there was always a large mid-America, heartland influence to John Mellencamp's music. He fell in love with music and by the age of 14 was touring local night spots playing anywhere he could get through the front door. From traditional instrumentation to song's about people, there was always the influence of artists like Cash, Willie Nelson and Woody Guthrie. His 80's musical style was often referred to as "roots rock", stripped of escapism looking directly at the messiness of life as it is lived; sounds country to me.

As first John Cougar, then John Cougar Mellencamp and finally just John Mellencamp, he has recorded 22 studio albums, 2 live albums and 3 compilation albums on his musical resume, winning a Grammy for Best Male Performance Rock.

John Mellencamp In Concert - February 19, 2011
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Mellencamp has landed 9 #1's on the US charts, appeared at 2 presidential inaugurations, and even appearing on the country chart with Travis Tritt in 2004 for the single "What Say You", which peaked at #24. In 2016, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awarded Mellencamp their prestigious Founders Award for his "exceptional contributions to music by inspiring and influencing fellow music creators." In 2008 Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame and in 2012 he was awarded the John Steinbeck award for his writing.

More than just an musician, Mellencamp is an artist in the true meaning of the word. He originally went to New York in the 70's to study painting, just in case the music thing didn't work out for him. His style has evolved, and his work has been featured in several gallery showcases through the years. In 2012, the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville featured his work under the name "Nothing Like I Planned: The Works of John Mellencamp".

The 49th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 4, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.
photo courtesy of Rick Diamond/Getty Images Entertanment

So the only thing left for Mellencamp to do is to bring his "voice of the heartland" to country music. And he has done this with his latest album, Plain Spoken, and we have the second single from the album in our spotlight today. John Mellencamp, no stranger to mixing music with politics and his latest single, the politically charged "Easy Target" is today's Catch of the Day, new music you haven't heard, but you'll want to hear it again.

More From KLAW-FM