John Mellencamp – Lonely Ol’ Night

When I graduated high school in1985 this song was was all over the radio. It was on the Scarecrow LP and that album marked a change in Mellencamp’s songs. The change in his style started with the Uh Huh album that came out in 1983 but this one is when I became more of a fan.

This song peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100 in 1985. The Scarecrow album peaked at #2 on the Billboard album chart. Mellencamp’s Uh Huh started the transformation and this solidified his heartland Americana image.

The title and hook were lifted from dialogue in the 1963 movie Hud. When Brandon De Wilde’s character asks, “It’s a Lonesome old night, isn’t it?” Paul Newman replies, “Ain’t they all?”

From Songfacts

The lyrics, “He’s singing about standing in the shadows of love, I guess he feels awfully alone” refer to the song “Standing In The Shadows Of Love,” which was a #6 hit for the Four Tops in 1967. “Lonely Ol’ Night” reached the same plateau. >>

The Scarecrow album saw Mellencamp move to a more political direction in his songwriting, as he gave voice to American farmers, expressing their burdens in songs like “Rain on the Scarecrow” and “You’ve Got to Stand for Somethin’.” “Lonely Ol’ Night” was more typical of his earlier work, a romantic story set against a musical backdrop. Lyrically, it’s not far off from his 1980 track “Ain’t Even Done With The Night.”

Mellencamp borrowed from the movie again in his 1987 track “Paper in Fire” with the line, “We keep no check on our appetites.”

Lonely Ol’ Night

She calls me home
She says baby it’s a lonely ol’ night
I don’t know
I’m just so scared and lonely all at the same time
Nobody told me
She was gonna work out this way no no no no no no
I guess they knew
We’d work it out in our own way

It’s a lonely ol’ night
Can I put my arms around you?
It’s a lonely ol nigh
Custom made for two lonely people like me and you

Radio playin’ softly
Some singer’s sad sad song
He’s singing about
Standing in the shadows of love
I guess it feels awfully alone
She says I know
Exactly what he means yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
And it’s a sad sad sad sad feeling
When you’re living on those in betweens
(But it’s OK)

It’s a lonely ol’ night
Can I put my arms around you?
It’s a lonely ol nigh
Custom made for two lonely people like me and you

She calls me baby
She calls everybody baby
It’s a lonely ol’ night
But ain’t they all?

It’s a lonely ol’ night
Can I put my arms around you?
It’s a lonely ol nigh
Custom made for two lonely people like me and you

Girl like me and you
Yeah like me and you

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

20 thoughts on “John Mellencamp – Lonely Ol’ Night”

    1. I wanted to pick one off of this album… I almost did Minutes to Memories… thanks… I’ve been thinking’s about it since your post the other day on him

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was going to do that one!!! I went to this one because it has a few memories…pardon the pun connected to it.
      I’m not sure if it was a single but that will be the next one I do from that album.


      1. I saw your comment, above. LOL!

        As I recall, I discovered “Minutes…” when I bought the album (CD?…can’t remember). I remember thinking that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard it on the radio.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would pick “Scarecrow” as my fave on the album but “Minutes to Memories” a very close second. Whole album very good. I too , years later listened and thought how did the company NOT put out “Minutes to Memories” as a single?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It surprised me…it did well without a single…and since the 80s were about the blockbuster album…you think they would have.


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