John Mellencamp – Minutes to Memories

This song is not one of John’s big hits but it’s a damn good song. It’s off the Scarecrow album. In my opinion, this was John’s best album and arguably the peak of his career.

To prepare for this album Mellencamp had a good idea. He had his band run through old rock songs for a month. They learned them inside and out and applied the knowledge on the new songs they were working on for the Scarecrow album.

You can hear it in songs like R.O.C.K in the U.S.A. and through the complete album.

Minutes to Memories peaked at #14 on the Top Rock Tracks in 1986. It was not released as a single.


Minutes to Memories

On a Greyhound thirty miles beyond Jamestown
He saw the sun set on the Tennessee line
He looked at the young man who was riding beside him
He said I’m old kind of worn out inside
I worked my whole life in the steel mills of Gary
And my father before me I helped build this land
Now I’m seventy-seven and with God as my witness
I earned every dollar that passed through my hands
My family and friends are the best thing I’ve known
Through the eye of the needle I’ll carry them home

Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can

The rain hit the old dog in the twilight’s last gleaming
He said Son it sounds like rattling old bones
This highway is long but I know some that are longer
By sunup tomorrow I guess I’ll be home
Through the hills of Kentucky ‘cross the Ohio river
The old man kept talking ’bout his life and his times
He fell asleep with his head against the window
He said an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind
This world offers riches and riches will grow wings
I don’t take stock in those uncertain things


The old man had a vision but it was hard for me to follow
I do things my way and I pay a high price
When I think back on the old man and the bus ride
Now that I’m older I can see he was right

Another hot one out on highway eleven
This is my life it’s what I’ve chosen to do
There are no free rides No one said it’d be easy
The old man told me this my son I’m telling it to you


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

60 thoughts on “John Mellencamp – Minutes to Memories”

  1. Indeed a great song, in my estimation his best song NOT released as a single (although it did get some radio play like a single in Canada). Whole album is outstanding.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. He had his band run through old rock songs for a month… That (in my opinion) was a brilliant thing to do. I once stopped myself from hearing any music for a year (1969)- no radio, TV, malls, etc. (in those days it was possible) -except for singing to myself lots and lots of songs! After 12 months I turned on the radio at random. It was José Feliciano singing “Windmills of Your Mind”. It was pure magic. It was mind-blowing!

    I didn’t know this Mellencamp song. Being in my 70s I actually found it rather moving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was brilliant of him so they would play the new songs in that style. It would be hard for me to go a year without hearing anything. Did you do it because you were writing and didn’t want to be influenced? It’s a good song by him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The more I know about you Bruce the more interesting you become. Forget the book with your stories…I would like to see the autobiography.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I might be amazingly boring!

        I need to fill in my “About Me”…wait…I need to have an About Me. I will work on that.

        It started downhill at 10 years old…I wanted to be in a band as big as the Beatles or The 3rd baseman for the LA Dodgers. I feel short of those goals…just a little.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. At least you had goals! I’m not sure that I aspired to be like anyone in particular. If I had my life over, I would stay on my father’s farm milking cows. It’s a safe occupation and one I liked and was good at.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s amazing what one can do with a cow! I like the security of just milking cows – same routine and regular pay. Where I live now (rent) on a dairy farm, the farmer milks 800 cows and is a millionaire!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. What a day…not that you want to know. My sister wanted me to go and we ate pizza…you know that red pepper you put on pizza? Don’t EVER get it in your eye…I did and didn’t see John until 30 minutes into the show…That stands out from then.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I ended up enjoying the concert and learned a valuable lesson! Don’t touch your face while eating pizza! Dang….that would work now!
        I should include that story on my next Mellencamp song lol

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Speaking of YouTube, I can’t get your video to play…in the Reader or your site. It’s giving some bizarre error code and, when I go to the Google Monster, they are vague in their “this may be the issue” explanation. The video works fine on YouTube…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok… yea but you many want to get an external drive if you don’t have one…they all add up lol.


      3. Ok…I’m going to clean up these comments…see if you get my email I just sent. It has an XPS file…lets see if your computer can read it.


  3. I’ve been a John Mellencamp fan for many years and know the tune, but didn’t recall the title!

    Do you know John’s “Rough Harvest” album featuring stripped back versions of his songs including “Minutes to Memories” and covers?

    If you’re primarily into the “old, straight rock” Mellencamp, it may take a little while to get used to the Americana/roots sound. I love it. In fact, I would go as far as to say I know prefer it over his early phase.


  4. still hope to see him in concert sometime. I actually had good tickets to one of his shows in the 90s, probably tour for ‘Whenver we wanted’, but can’t remember for sure, but unfortunately one of his band broke their arm a couple of days before the show and it was canceled. He may have rescheduled, can’t recall, but I just got a refund for the tix. Shame that was.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “He said an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind” You don’t get lines much better than this. It’s a good song. Kind of reminds me of The Gambler. I thought the old guy meant he was dying when he said he’d be home by morning.

    Liked by 1 person

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