John Mellencamp – Rain On The Scarecrow

This song was from what I think was John Mellencamp’s best album Scarecrow and the peak of his career.

This song is about the financial difficulties farmers in the Midwest US face… difficulties that can go as far as having their farms repossessed by banks. Mellencamp wrote the song with George Green, who he worked with on many tracks, including “Hurts So Good.”

He has taken an active role in helping American farmers. Along with Neil Young and Willie Nelson, he regularly plays at the Farm-Aid concerts to help raise money.

The song peaked at #21 in the Billboard 100 in 1986. The album peaked at #2 in 1985.

From Songfacts

“Our songs always came about the same way: talk around the kitchen table,” Mellencamp told Rolling Stone. “I had just played ‘Small Town’ for him. He said, “I don’t know why these towns are going out of business” – towns like Freetown and Dudleytown, Indiana. We couldn’t figure out why they were disappearing. We did our research and wrote this song – Reagan had been using grain against the Soviet Union and all sorts of other things. Talking to people was heartbreaking. Nobody wanted to lose their farm.”

When the banker forecloses on the farm in this song, Mellencamp introduces himself into it:

He said, “John it’s just my job and I hope you understand”
Hey, calling it your job ol’ Hoss sure don’t make it right

This bit was culled from the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, where the boss man puts Paul Newman’s character, Luke, in “the box” (solitary confinement), telling him, “Sorry, Luke. I’m just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.”

Luke replies: “Nah, calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.”

Another track on the album, “Lonely Ol’ Night,” also uses dialogue from a Paul Newman movie: the 1963 film Hud. In that one, a character asks, “It’s a lonesome ol’ night, isn’t it?”

Rain On The Scarecrow

Scarecrow on a wooden cross blackbird in the barn
Four hundred empty acres that used to be my farm
I grew up like my daddy did my grandpa cleared this land
When I was five I walked the fence while grandpa held my hand

Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow
This land fed a nation this land made me proud
And son I’m just sorry theres no legacy for you now
Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow

The crops we grew last summer weren’t enough to pay the loans
Couldn’t buy the seed to plant this spring and the farmers bank foreclosed
Called my old friend schepman up to auction off the land
He said john its just my job and I hope you understand
Hey calling it your job ol hoss sure dont make it right
But if you want me to Ill say a prayer for your soul tonight
And grandmas on the front porch swing with a
Bible in her hand Sometimes I hear her singing take me to the promised land
When you take away a mans dignity he cant work his fields and cows

There’ll be blood on the scarecrow blood on the plow
Blood on the scarecrow blood on the plow

Well there’s ninety-seven crosses planted in the courthouse yard
Ninety-seven families who lost ninety-seven farms
I think about my grandpa and my neighbors and my name and some nights
I feel like dying like that scarecrow in the rain


Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow
This land fed a nation this land made me so proud
And son I’m just sorry they’re just memories for you now
Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow blood on the plow

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

18 thoughts on “John Mellencamp – Rain On The Scarecrow”

  1. a great song, I think right up there with Mellencamp’s best. I remember that record sleeve you depicted there – I actually had that one and had it plak-mounted on my wall at one time… I had a wall decoration made of various 45 picture sleeves in a sort of matrix around REM’s Fables of the reconstruction album cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a cool idea you had with the covers. My cousin had albums…just vinyl albums all over his wall…all touching each other…it looked cool.

      I think this was his peak…this upped his standing from pop/rock singer to Springsteen territory.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The govt is always doing just as those farmers in the beginning of the video said, trying force them to get bigger and invest in more expensive equipment and go deeper into debt. If you look at farming as an investment in the furture of the farm like a young college student considers their education an investment in the future, going into debt is how they lead farmers and students down the chute to enslavement. Add in manipulation of commodoties, tariffs, etc. for farmers and the union busting wage crushing for students, you’ll see that our nation is becoming mass slavery with no end in sight. I admire John, Neil, and Willie organizing aid for the farmers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is so sad. I live around a lot of farms and since I was a kid I’ve seen a lot go broke. The 80s it got really bad for them.
      I’m glad those guys stick up for them and more than the money…they draw attention to the problem.
      They have so many regulations to go by that it’s hard to make a living at it now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. same sort of thing where I come from. Even in my lifetime, I saw the farmland surrounding my hometown shrink (of course, due to the growth of metro Toronto and subsequent sub-urban growth) but also seen it veer more and more from 60 acre family farms raising chickens for eggs, some salad veggies, maybe a few cows and SOME corn to huge 1000 acre monocrop corn or soy entities. Can’t imagine many young people wanting to go into farming these days, even if it was the family biz, and that’s not good for our society.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think the only ones that go into it are the ones that belonged to a family who were in it. You are right…they are dwindling. It will be corporations who do it.


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