John Mellencamp – Jackie Brown

Great under the radar song by John Mellencamp. It was on the album Big Daddy released in 1989. I bought this album at the time because of this song… and Pop Singer was another favorite.

John was going through a divorce with his second wife Victoria Granucci  when he released this album and it help inspire this song.

The song peaked at #20 in the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts and #23 in Canada in 1989.

John Mellencamp: After the divorce went through, my wife took my two little kids and moved away from Indiana, which she was allowed to do because I didn’t contest it. I had a family, and all of a sudden I didn’t. I had just done the Lonesome Jubilee tour, it was the biggest, most successful tour in the country that year, and it meant nothing to me. I was grateful that people liked the songs, but I felt like a monkey on a string. We did 190 shows, and it was like, “Oh, let’s get out there and give them one more rousing chorus of ‘Pink Houses.'” I was like a cheerleader, and I didn’t like it.

“I wrote ‘Jackie Brown’ about myself in a different scenario: me disguised as a poor guy – not as a guy that had been successful and pretty much lost everything, which in my mind I had, because I’d lost my daughters. The song is about how you have to go outside to use the bathroom because you’ve sunk so low.”

From Songfacts

Eight years before Quentin Tarantino released the movie Jackie Brown, John Mellencamp used the title for a song that tells a very different story. Mellencamp’s Jackie Brown is a destitute man who will never escape poverty.

Jackie Brown

Is this your life, Jackie Brown?
Poorly educated and forced to live on the poor side of town.
Is this your daughter, Jackie Brown?
This pretty little girl
In the worn out clothes
That have been hand-me down.
Is this your wife, Jackie Brown?
With sad blue eyes, walking on eggshells so you don’t see her frown.
Is this your family, Jackie Brown?

Dream of vacationing on a mountain stream
And giving the world more than it gave you.
What ugly truths freedom brings
And it hasn’t been very kind to you.
Is this your life, Jackie Brown?

Is this your meal, Jackie Brown?
Barely enough, I’ve seen people throw more than this out.
Is this your home, Jackie Brown?
This three room shack
With no running water
And the bathroom out back.
Is this your grave, Jackie Brown?
This little piece of limestone that says another desperate man took
Himself out.
Is this your dream, Jackie Brown?

Going nowhere and nowhere fast
We shame ourselves to watch people like this live.
But who gives a damn about Jackie Brown?
Just another lazy man who couldn’t take what was his.
One helluva life Jackie Brown.
Forevermore, Jackie Brown
Amen and amen – Jackie Brown?


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

22 thoughts on “John Mellencamp – Jackie Brown”

  1. it is an outstanding song and one of his best, which is saying something to be sure. Like you said, kind of “beneath the radar” unfortunately. One of not too many songs I might be persuaded to go “karaoke” on too, LOL.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL…my standbys are Brown Eyed Girl and Gloria…I can do those! I did those in a bar in Florida one night and was asked to do Moondance…I politely refused…that is above my station!

      I do like this song and album. Pop Singer is good also but this song is brilliant.


    1. No it’s a low key song…when I first saw the movie Jackie Brown I thought they made a movie of this song! It wasn’t…just the same name.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great song! I’m a huge John Mellencamp fan and have been for many years.

    “Big Daddy” came out after “The Lonesome Jublilee,” one of my favorite Mellencamp albums that started his gradual transition from straight to more roots/Americana-oriented rock.

    While I dig tunes like “Hurts So Good” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”, I like his Americana-oriented songs even better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Question, I have over a hundred old albums in my dry crawl space we are cleaning out. Do you know of a site that can identify if they are valuable?.
    for example, I have an Elvis Moody blue played only a few times whcih was Elvis last album.

    Regards and goodwill blogging

    Liked by 1 person

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