Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Number 637 - John Mellencamp


Number 637

John Mellencamp

"R.o.c.k In The USA"

(1985)
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Genre:Rock
Last time i wrote about "The Cougar" i complained why wasn't he regarded as an American Icon like Springsteen or Dylan? Well suffice to say that question never got answered by no sausage, of any authority. But it has given me time to reflect over the question now for 198 songs. I have concluded with much wisdom of thought and decided ............. i am still right.
Uh-Huh found John Mellencamp coming into his own, but he perfected his heartland rock with Scarecrow. A loose concept album about lost innocence and the crumbling of small-town America, Scarecrow says as much with its tough rock and gentle folk-rock as it does with its lyrics, which remain a weak point for Mellencamp. Nevertheless, his writing has never been more powerful: "Rain on the Scarecrow" and "Small Town" capture the hopes and fears of Middle America, while "Lonely Ol' Night" and "Rumbleseat" effortlessly convey the desperate loneliness of being stuck in a dead-end life. Those four songs form the core of the album, and while the rest of the album isn't quite as strong, that's only a relative term, since it's filled with lean hooks and powerful, economical playing that make Scarecrow one of the definitive blue-collar rock albums of the mid-'80s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

For John Mellencamp also see Number 828
For Bruce Springsteen see Number 817
For Bob Dylan see Number 841, Number 929 & Number 491

Personel life ....Mellencamp lives in Bloomington, Indiana and has been married to former supermodel Elaine Irwin since September 5, 1992. Mellencamp has five children from his three marriages: Michelle (born 1970) from his first marriage; daughters Teddi Jo (1981) and Justice (1985) from his second wife; and sons Hud (1994) and Speck (1995) from his current marriage. He is known to be a rabid Indiana University basketball fan (he often attends games), and has been a staunch supporter of the university itself for a number of years, having contributed a significant amount of money to the University's cultural and educational programs. In 2000, he gave the IU commencement address, in which he advised graduates to "play it like you feel it!" and that "you'll be all right." Following the delivery of his address, Indiana University bestowed upon him an honorary doctorate of Musical Arts. A popular fixture in and around Bloomington, Mellencamp is often seen dining out in any of several of his favorite local restaurants, shopping at local farmer's markets and co-ops, and attending musical/artistic events in town. Despite his constant presence, however, Mellencamp is known among citizens for his desire for privacy and "a normal life," often expressing dismay at being approached for autographs or greetings while shopping, dining out, or relaxing with his family (though he is noted to be very cordial and appreciative to those fans who approach him at "appropriate" times.) Accordingly, "Mellencamp sightings" among Bloomington residents and IU students are a common, though usually anticlimactic, occurrence.

What does Rolling Stone think about John Mellencamp?
was something of a joke. On the five albums he recorded between 1976 and 1980, he offered pleasant radio music, but nothing worth pondering once the next song started blasting out of the car-radio speakers. Then he got serious with "Jack and Diane," which took a dull, poorly conveyed romance and used it as a springboard for and equally unfocused ideology. The song was culled from American Fool, an LP that deserved its title.
The multiplatinum Uh-Huh, in '83, changed that. "Pink Houses," the album's standout, irrevocably upped Mellencamp's artistic ante. (And reverting to his real surname won him back some personal respect.) Simultaneously an affirmation of traditional American values and a damnation of what they have become, "" melded Mellencamp's populist politics with an anthemic backing that made it a natural hit. He couldn't maintain that high level for the length of the LP, but such songs as the Stonesy "Crumblin' Down" and the Bobby Fuller Four homage "Authority Song" raised expectations that Mellencamp was going to become a major voice.
Recorded at Mellencamp's own Belmont Mall studio, the sound is intentionally low tech, built around Kenny Aronoff's enormous snare-drum beat. The sinewy mix is all drums and guitar, with Toby Myers' bass and John Cascella's keyboards emphasized sparingly and strategically. One big exception is "Justice and Independence '85" (dry funk similar to R.E.M.'s "Can't Get There from Here"), in which the propulsive rhythms, complemented by tight horns, make Mellencamp's stillborn poetic devices less annoying.
Scarecrow is a transitional album. Mellencamp has yet to completely shed the dopey bad-boy image that infected his early work – "You've Got to Stand for Somethin'" and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60's Rock)" glorify false rebellion. But "Minutes to Memories," "Rain on the Scarecrow" and "Between a Laugh and a Tear" suggest a formidable talent just beginning to emerge.
Mellencamp is no longer a product labeled Johnny Cougar. He has grown up, but his passion shows no sign of diminishing. He sees an American dream dying around him, but he intends to go down fighting. Even if authority always wins
. (RS 457) JIMMY GUTERMAN
For REM see Number 712
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (C'mon He was a Joke!) and the Album ranked at Number (Ok.... Phuck... put down the gun OK!)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 71 out of 108

Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

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