John Mellencamp – Ain’t Even Done With The Night

This is John in his “Cougar” days. It was right before the floodgates opened for him with the album American Fool that would come in 1982.

This song came off of his 4th studio album Nothing Matters and What If It Did released in 1980.  Ain’t Even Done With The Night peaked at #17 in the Billboard 100 and #15 in Canada. Mellencamp wrote the song.

Nothin matters and what if it did.JPG

He has been asked what is the worse thing he ever did for success. He replied that would be changing his name to Johnny Cougar but the record company had him in a corner.

In 1983 after the hugely successful American Fool album John had enough leverage to force his record company to use his real name. It would now be John Cougar Mellencamp.

Steve Cropper produced this album…he produced many artists for Stax records.

John Mellencamp: “I have probably never gotten along with any record company executive ever, except maybe one,”  “And if they were such good businessmen, why aren’t they running Coca-Cola or other major corporations now?”

John Mellencamp: “I see things that other people don’t see,” he said in his Plain Spoken DVD. “I pay attention to detail. That’s where my songs come from. They’re not about me.”

From Songfacts

John Mellencamp got married at 18 and had his first child a short time later. He knew the vagaries of young romance and fear of commitment quite well, which certainly qualified him to write this song about a couple deeply in love, with the guy unsure what to do and the girl reassuring him.

This method of songwriting proved very successful and comes into play on this song: There was probably a time when your heart was beating like thunder, etching a memory so powerful you can remember the song that was playing on the radio.

This song came during a transitional period for Mellencamp, after his first hit but before his star turn. In 1978, “I Need A Lover,” a song from his second album, took off in Australia, giving him a leg up on the other young rockers he was competing against. From there, he set out to create hits, which he felt was essential to his survival – he was a strong-willed, hard-headed country boy who didn’t get along with his record label and most industry folks, so unless he could become invaluable, he wasn’t going to make it.

“Ain’t Even Done with the Night” came from his quest to make hit pop songs, and even thought he has shown no affinity for it, the song became one of his most enduring, showing up on playlists decades after it was first released.

It helped keep him on the charts until his breakthrough fifth album, American Fool, with the hits “Hurts So Good” and “Jack & Diane.” After that, he no longer had to care even a little what people think. His songs that followed are the ones he considers his best work.

This song falls smack in the middle of the “John Cougar” years – the name he used from 1979-1983; before that he was “Johnny Cougar.” In 1983 he started using “John Cougar Mellencamp,” then in 1990 just John Mellencamp.

Steve Cropper, who produced Otis Redding and many other acts at Stax Records, produced the Nothin’ Matters And What If It Did album.

Ain’t Even Done With The Night

Well our hearts beat like thunder
I don’t know why they don’t explode
You got your hands in my back pockets
And Sam Cooke’s singin’ on the radio
You say that I’m the boy who can make it all come true
Well I’m tellin’ ya that I don’t know if I know what to do

You say that’s all right, hold tight
Well I don’t even know if I’m doin’ this right
Well all right, hold tight
We can stay out all day or we can run around all night
Well all night, all night
Well it’s time to go home
And I ain’t even done with the night

Well I don’t know no good come-ons
And I don’t know no cool lines
I feel the heat of your frustration
I know it’s burnin you up deep down inside
You say that I’m the boy who can make it all come true
Well I’m tellin ya that I don’t know if I know what to do

You say that’s all right, hold tight
Well I don’t even know if I’m doin’ this right
Well all right, hold tight
We can stay out all day or we can run around all night
Well all night, all night
Well it’s time to go home
And I ain’t even done with the night

John Mellencamp – Again Tonight

Go ego trip’n again tonight
Tell the same lies they work all right

Back in 1991, I was going out a lot and I really related to this song. I had the cassette of Whenever We Wanted by Mellencamp and it contained a few hits. This one was a minor hit but the one that I wore out. 

It peaked at #36 in the Billboard 100 but was a bigger hit in Canada where it peaked at #8 in 1991. It did make it to #1 on the Mainstream Rock charts.

This album contained Get A Leg Up, Now More Than Ever, Last Chance, and Love and Happiness.

Whenever We Wanted peaked at #17 in the Billboard Album Charts, #8 in Canada, #39 in the UK, and #40 in New Zealand.

Again Tonight

Run in circles again tonight
Hump the moon again tonight
Gonna wear my dancin’ shoes out tonight
Gonna have myself a big time again tonight

[Chorus:]
Again tonight
Again tonight
Again tonight

Girl’s got lightning
Underneath her skirt
Boys try to touch it
For whatever it’s worth
In the morning
She’s just gonna be hurt
She wonders is it worth it again tonight

[Chorus]

Gonna catch that cloud tonight
Nine, cloud nine
Gonna try and catch that cloud tonight
Nine, cloud nine
Again tonight

Can you hold me baby again, again tonight
Can you sing
Can you dance baby
Can you sing
Can you hold me again tonight
Baby can you sing

Go ego trip’n again tonight
Tell the same lies they work all right
Gonna wear my dancin’ shoes out tonight
Probably make a fool of myself again tonight

[Chorus]

John Mellencamp – R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.

John Mellencamp took a three-chord pattern that is used many times in rock and roll (Cherry, Cherry is one) and turned it into Rock in the USA. The song worked well…in the middle of the eighties, he turned this very 60’s sounding song into a big hit. The song peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100 and #7 in Canada in 1986.

Mellencamp name-drops several artists, particularly Frankie Lyman, Bobby Fuller, Mitch Ryder, Jackie Wilson, Shangra La’s, Young Rascals, Martha Reeves and James Brown. These artists were Mellencamp’s influences while growing up.

This song was on the Scarecrow album. To prepare for this album Mellencamp had a great idea. He had his band run through 60’s rock songs for a month. They learned them inside and out and applied the feel on the new songs they were working on the album.

Larry Crane the guitarist: “We got a bunch of those tapes you see advertised on TV with all the old songs on them, and God, we learned everything.”

Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 Best Albums of the Eighties,” ranked Scarecrow at #95… that surprises me that it’s that low on the list. In my opinion, this album was the peak of his career.

 

From Songfacts

“R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” is subtitled “A Salute to ’60s Rock,” and despite Mellencamp’s feeling that “I don’t think people are getting the idea of what the song’s about, so I must’ve not done a very good job,” the song became a big hit. It tells the story of how rock and roll emerged in America, and how those (now infamous) musicians that were not afraid to take personal risks for the sake of their music became a strong influence on the next generation, including Mellencamp, who sings: “[They] Filled our head full of dreams, turned the world upside down.”

Growing up, Mellencamp listened to AM radio at a time when the same station would play a mix of styles, exposing him to rock, folk, soul and R&B at an early age.

John Mellencamp released “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” in 1985 on his eighth album Scarecrow. The album peaked at #2 in the US, with three Top 10 hit singles, this being the biggest. The overall theme of the album is the decay of societal foundations in rural America, but this song is a departure from that theme. Far from satirical, Mellencamp intends to portray a mournful U.S.A. that has been slowly eaten out from inside by the industries that substitute greed for the American Dream, but “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A” was so against the grain of this album’s emotional profile that Mellencamp almost excluded it from the album.

Mellencamp’s interest in recreating the sounds of the heyday of rock & roll has spanned his entire career; in 2009 he recorded songs for the 2010 album No Better than This at Sun Studios (in the footsteps of Elvis) and other historical locations. The recording techniques used for this album are purposefully raw in an attempt to reconnect with his roots, a reflection of Mellencamp’s ideology of “Real music, for real people!”

In this way, Mellencamp was paying homage, but he was also paying his dues. For example, the late Bobby Fuller’s mention on a Top 10 song, and a platinum album, was enough to revive flagging interest in the artist (as well as get Mellencamp a credit on a Bobby Fuller Four Best-Of album). Said Mellencamp: “When I played in Albuquerque, I think it was, his [Fuller’s] mom and some of his family came down to see me play. They acted like I gave them 60 million dollars just for mentioning his name. They gave me his belt that he died in.”

The instrumental break in this song is very clever. When we first hear it, it’s played on an ocarina, which is a small wind instrument of ancient Eastern origins, thought to be 12,000 years old, and often made in the shape of a bird and used to imitate its fluting song. This is a nod to the song “Wild Thing” by The Troggs, which featured an ocarina solo. In Mellencamp’s song, the riff is then played on guitar and later on keyboards, going through various musical forms popular in ’60s rock. In concert, Mellencamp would often bring a fan onstage to dance with him during this section.

In the months prior to recording Scarecrow, Mellencamp’s band worked their way through nearly a hundred cover songs. Mellencamp hoped that through these covers, they would absorb the stylistic essence of the era through osmosis. Mellencamp’s bassist Toby Myers admitted that, “I thought he was giving us busywork, but he wanted us to understand what made those songs tick so we could put some of that grit into his songs.” The band was surprised by the sheer quantity of different styles that characterized the era. “Take an old Rascals song for example,” Mellencamp said. “There’s everything from marching band beats to soul music to country sounds in one song.”

For the Scarecrow album, Mellencamp moved away from the stage-name, John Cougar, which had been given to him by Tony DeFries, his first manager, and became “John Cougar Mellencamp” (he would drop the “cougar” completely by 1989). This was a fortunate move, because 2009 saw the release of the hit sitcom Cougar Town starring Courteney Cox (as the main “cougar”). The ensuing taunts that would have come with the transition of cultural interpretation from a cougar being an imposing catamount to a sexy middle-aged woman might have been enough to revive Mellencamp’s reputation as a hothead prone to bursts of anger in his old age. As if continually being compared to Bruce Springsteen wasn’t enough…

This song forms part of a greater genre of songs that spell out words in the lyrics, like Otis Redding’s song “Respect” (made famous by Aretha Franklin) or “Lola” by the Kinks.

Mellencamp’s title wasn’t too far from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.,” released a year earlier. That song was often misinterpreted as a celebration of America, when it was really about the plight of a Vietnam War veteran.

In keeping with ’60s hit single tradition, Mellencamp kept this song under three minutes long – it clocks in at 2:54.

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

They come from the cities
And they come from the smaller towns
Beat up cars with guitars and drummers
Goin crack boom bam

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.
R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.
R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A., Yeah, Yeah!
Rockin’ in the U.S.A.

Said goodbye to their families
Said goodbye to their friends
With pipe dreams in their heads
And very little money in their hands
Some are black and some are white
Ain’t to proud to sleep on the floor tonight
With the blind faith of Jesus you know that they just might, be
Rockin’ in the U.S.A.
Hey!

Voices from nowhere
And voices from the larger towns
Filled our head full of dreams
Turned the world upside down

There was Frankie Lyman-Bobby Fuller-Mitch Ryder
(They were Rockin’)
Jackie Wilson-Shangra-las-Young Rascals
(They were Rockin’)
Spotlight on Martha Reeves
Let’s don’t forget James Brown
Rockin’ in the U.S.A.
Rockin’ in the U.S.A.
Hey!

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.
R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.
R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A., Yeah, Yeah!
Rockin’ in the U.S.A.

John Mellencamp – Cherry Bomb

One of my favorite John Mellencamp songs. Back when it was released I liked it because it was a catchy song. Now I like it more because I can relate to it about growing up. I will admit though…I always thought he said “That’s when a spoke was a spoke“… I thought what? Must be some crazy Indiana thing….then I thought…no that can’t be right…it must be “That’s when a smoke was a smoke“….Wrong again…it is… “That’s when a sport was a sport.

The prominence of the accordion and violin in this are usually not associated with Rock and Roll but it makes the song sound fresh. The song peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #4 in New Zealand.

It was on the album The Lonesome Jubilee released in 1987. The album peaked at #6 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1987.

Cherry Bomb

Well I lived on the outskirts of town
In an eight room farmhouse, baby
When my brothers and friends were around
There was always somethin’ doin’
Had me a couple of real nice girlfriends
Stopped by to see me every once in a while
When I think back about those days
All I can do is sit and smile

That’s when a sport was a sport
And groovin’ was groovin’
And dancin’ meant everything
We were young and we were improvin’
Laughin’, laughin’ with our friends
Holdin’ hands meant somethin’, baby
Outside the club “Cherry Bomb”
Our hearts were really thumpin’
Say yeah yeah yeah
Say yeah yeah yeah

The winter days they last forever
But the weekends went by so quick
Went ridin’ around this little country town
We were goin’ nuts, girl, out in the sticks
One night, me with my big mouth
A couple guys had to put me in my place
When I see those guys these days
We just laugh and say do you remember when

That’s when a sport was a sport
And groovin’ was groovin’
And dancin’ meant everything
We were young and we were improvin’
Laughin’, laughin’ with our friends
Holdin’ hands meant somethin’, baby
Outside the club “Cherry Bomb”
Our hearts were really thumpin’
Say yeah yeah yeah
Say yeah yeah yeah

Say yeah yeah yeah
Say yeah yeah yeah

Seventeen has turned thirty-five
I’m surprised that we’re still livin’
If we’ve done any wrong
I hope that we’re forgiven
Got a few kids of my own
And some days I still don’t know what to do
I hope that they’re not laughing too loud
When they hear me talkin’
Like this to you

That’s when a sport was a sport
And groovin’ was groovin’
And dancin’ meant everything
We were young and we were improvin’
Laughin’, laughin’ with our friends
Holdin’ hands meant so much, baby
Outside the club “Cherry Bomb”
Our hearts were really thumpin’
Say yeah yeah yeah
Say yeah yeah yeah

John Mellencamp – Pink Houses

I remember this song well but I also remember the MTV giveaway contest. Oh yes, you could win a free house in Indiana where Mellencamp was from…a pink one of course! MTV got a good deal on the first house…20,000 dollars…there was a reason for that. It was across the street from a toxic dump. MTV then had to get another house and they finally did and gave it away. Susan Miles won the house along with a pink jeep and a garage full of Hawian Punch…not sure how that factored in.

Inspiration for this song came when Mellencamp was driving on Interstate 65 in Indianapolis. As described in the first verse, he saw a black man sitting in a lawn chair just watching the road. The image stuck with Mellencamp, who wasn’t sure if the man should be pitied because he was desolate, or admired because he was happy.

Pink Houses peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 and #15 in Canada in 1984. The song was on the Uh-Huh and that album peaked at #9 on the Billboard Album Charts in 1984. This is the album that in my opinion placed John Mellencamp with the so-called “Heartland Rockers” like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Seger.

 

From Songfacts

Mellencamp is from a rural town in Indiana and often writes about the American experience. His songs are sometimes misinterpreted as patriotic anthems, when a deeper listen reveals lyrics that deal with the challenges of living in America as well as the triumphs. Mellencamp has expressed his love for his country, but has also criticized the US government for going to war in Iraq, developing a dependency on foreign oil and not doing more to support the working class.

“It’s really an anti-American song,” Mellencamp told Rolling Stone about “Pink Houses.” “The American dream had pretty much proven itself as not working anymore. It was another way for me to sneak something in.”

MTV ran a contest based on this song where they gave away a pink house in Indiana. They got a great deal on the place – John Sykes at the network remembers paying $20,000 for it – but unfortunately, the house was across from a toxic waste dump. When Rolling Stone ran an article pointing this out, Sykes flew to Indiana and bought another house, which is the one they gave away (after painting it pink). The ordeal provided one of the many strange-but-true memories of the early MTV years (and not the only one involving a contest – when they did a promotion with Van Halen making a viewer a “roadie for a day,” the guy who won almost died from the alcohol, drugs and assorted excess). According to Sykes, the house near the waste dump stayed on the books at MTV until 1992, as they couldn’t get rid of it.

Uh-Huh was the first album where Mellencamp used his real name. His manager named him “Johnny Cougar” when he started out, a name he used on his first two albums. He then became “John Cougar” until his seventh album, Uh-Huh, when he used John Cougar Mellencamp. In 1990, he recorded as John Mellencamp.

Changing his name was out of character, as he was notoriously combative with his record company and refused to participate in conventions like listening parties. But he knew that the only way he could ever call his own shots was by making hits, and the name change seemed like a good call, even though it didn’t suit him. When his plan worked, earning his autonomy, he started the process of changing to his real name.

Mellencamp’s previous hits, notably “Hurts So Good” and “Jack & Diane,” took him a long time to write. “Pink Houses” was different, and marked a creative breakthrough.

“I started writing every day and painting and drawing, and I found myself open to suggestion,” he said in his Plain Spoken DVD. “I wrote a song called ‘Pink Houses’ that came very quickly. I wasn’t thinking about it – I saw something a couple of days before, and I just more-less reported on it, and it came out to be ‘Pink Houses.’ True art is always a surprise. It’s not constructed. If it doesn’t surprise the person that’s writing it, it’s not going to surprise the person that’s listening.”

Mellencamp performed an 8-minute version of this with Kid Rock at the 2001 “Concert For New York,” a benefit for victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

 

Pink Houses

There’s a black man with a black cat
Living in a black neighborhood
He’s got an interstate running’ through his front yard
You know, he thinks, he’s got it so good
And there’s a woman in the kitchen cleaning’ up evening slop
And he looks at her and says:
“Hey darling, I can remember when you could stop a clock”

Oh but ain’t that America, for you and me
Ain’t that America, we’re something to see baby
Ain’t that America, home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me, oh for you and me

Well there’s a young man in a T-shirt
Listenin’ to a rock ‘n’ roll station
He’s got a greasy hair, greasy smile
He says: “Lord, this must be my destination”
‘Cause they told me, when I was younger
Sayin’ “Boy, you’re gonna be president”
But just like everything else, those old crazy dreams
Just kinda came and went

Oh but ain’t that America, for you and me
Ain’t that America, we’re something to see baby
Ain’t that America, home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses, for you and me, oh baby for you and me

Well there’s people and more people
What do they know, know, know
Go to work in some high rise
And vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico
Ooo yeah

And there’s winners, and there’s losers
But they ain’t no big deal
‘Cause the simple man baby pays the thrills,
The bills and the pills that kill

Oh but ain’t that America, for you and me
Ain’t that America, we’re something to see baby
Ain’t that America, home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me, ooo, ooo yeah

Ain’t that America, for you and me
Ain’t that America, hey we’re something to see baby
Ain’t that America, oh the home of the free,
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Little pink houses babe for you and me, ooo yeah ooo yeah

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

[Chorus:]
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

[Chorus]

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

[Chorus]

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

[Chorus]
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

[Chorus]

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

John Mellencamp – Small Town

I always liked this song because I could/can relate to it. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. It had its drawbacks but was a great place to grow up.

Mellencamp wrote this about his experiences growing up in the small town of Seymour, Indiana. The media portrayed Mellencamp as the champion of small-town America when the song was released. While he has remained true to his roots and often returns to Seymour, he claims he was simply writing about his life, and not trying to make a statement.

The song is on what I always thought was his best album Scarecrow. Small Town peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100 in 1985. Scarecrow peaked at #2 in the same year in the Billboard Album Chart.

From Songfacts

The music Mellencamp listened to growing up in the ’60s was a huge influence on his work, and he often put bits of classics songs from that era in his tracks. On the bridge of “Small Town,” you can hear the riff from The Supremes song “Back in My Arms Again.”

Mellencamp believes this was a hit because it makes people feel good. He thinks many of his songs don’t do well because they make people confront problems, like the plight of American farmers.

Mellencamp would sometimes add the line “My wife was 13 years old growing up in a small town when I wrote this song,” referring to his wife, the model Elaine Irwin, who is 17 years younger. The couple split up in 2010.

Mellencamp wrote this song after having a number of conversations with folks from New York who seemed to think he – and everyone else from the middle of the country – was a rube. “I wanted to write a song that said, ‘you don’t have to live in New York or Los Angeles to live a full life,'” he told Rolling Stone in 2013. “I was never one of those guys that grew up and thought, ‘I need to get out of here.’ It never dawned on me. I just valued having a family and staying close to friends.”

Small Town

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Probably die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in the same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity

Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that’s me

But I’ve seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town
Married an L.A. doll and brought her to this small town
Now she’s small town just like me

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be

Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who’s in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that’s good enough for me

Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that’s probably where they’ll bury me

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

John Mellencamp – Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) ———Songs that reference The Beatles

In a hand painted night, me and Gypsy Scotty are partners, At the Hotel Flamingo, wearin black market shoes, This loud Cuban band is crucifying John Lennon

This song was released in 1996 and it came off the album Mr. Happy Go Lucky. The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada and #83 in the UK in 1996. It’s a very good pop song and Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First), which was Mellencamp’s last US top 40 hit.

John Mellencamp and Cougar had 29 songs in the Billboard 100, 10 top ten hits and one number 1 (Jack and Diane). He released this two years after his minor heart attack in 1994. I’ve always liked this song…catchy riff and a good pop hook.

 

Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)

In a hand painted night, me and Gypsy Scotty are partners
At the Hotel Flamingo, wearin black market shoes
This loud Cuban band is crucifying John Lennon
No one wants to be lonely, no one wants to sing the blues

She’s perched like a parrot on his tuxedo shoulder
Christ, what’s she doing with him she could be dancing with me
She stirs the ice in her glass with her elegant finger
I want to be what she’s drinking, yeah I just want to be

I saw you first
I’m the first one tonight
I saw you first
Don’t that give me the right
To move around in your heart
Everyone was lookin
But I saw you first

On a moon spattered road in her parrot rebozo
Gypsy Scotty is driving his big long yellow car
She flies like a bird over his shoulder
Se whispers in his ear, boy, you are my star

But I saw you first
I’m the first one tonight
Yes I saw you first
Don’t that give me the right
To move around in your heart
Everyone was lookin’

In the bone colored dawn, me and Gypsy Scotty are singin’
The radio is playin, she left her shoes out in the back
He tells me a story about some girl he knows in Kentucky
He just made that story up, there ain’t no girl like that

But I saw you first
I’m the first one tonight
Yes I saw you first
Don’t that give me the right
To move around in your heart
Everyone was lookin
But I saw you first
I saw you first

John Mellencamp – The Authority Song

The then John Cougar Mellencamp released the album “Uh Huh” in October of 1983. This is when I became a fan. I did like some of his earlier songs like “Ain’t Even Done With The Night” but with this album, his sound changed. I just turned 16 when the Authority Song came out so naturally, I connected with it.

The album peaked at #9 in the Billboard 100 in 1984. He had 5 singles in the top 40 released off of this album. The Authority Song peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100 in 1984.

From Songfacts

When discussing this song, Mellencamp called it “our new version of ‘I Fought The Law.'” It’s typical of Mellencamp’s rebel attitude: “growing up leads to growing old and then to dying.” 

Mellencamp had a complex relationship with authority, which unlike what’s stated in this song, didn’t win.

He grew up in Seymour, Indiana, where nobody had ever become famous. Ignoring the many naysayers, he went to New York and earned a record deal, which he learned wasn’t a big deal after all, as labels were hiring photogenic young rockers by the hundreds. Most of these aspiring superstars came from cities and were willing to play the game, doing whatever the label deemed necessary. Mellencamp clashed with this culture but didn’t have a clear direction. He tried on a number of public personas before establishing his identity as a heartland rocker with his 1982 American Fool album. By Uh-huh, he was still focused on making hits, but imbuing them with more subtext and artistry. He was also transitioning his stage name, becoming “John Cougar Mellencamp” for the first time (he started recording as “Johnny Cougar,” and then, “John Cougar”).

Thanks to “Jack & Diane” and “Hurts So Good,” Mellencamp was a big star by the time this song was released, and much of his success was owed to MTV. He hated making videos, and “Authority Song” paired him with a director who had equal disdain for the form: Jay Dubin, who told Songfacts, “It just has to look nice and exist for a few short minutes. There’s no magic in it.”

The video, in black and white, shows Mellencamp as a boxer stepping into the ring, but without gloves and without ever actually fighting.

The Authority Song

They like to get you in a compromising position
They like to get you there and smile in your face
They think, they’re so cute when they got you in that condition
Well I think, it’s a total disgrace

I fight authority, authority always wins
I fight authority, authority always wins
I been doing it, since I was a young kid
I’ve come out grinnin’
I fight authority, authority always wins

So I call up my preacher
I say: “Gimme strength for Round 5”
He said: “You don’t need no strength, you need to grow up, son”
I said: “Growing up leads to growing old and then to dying,
And dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun”

I fight authority, authority always wins
I fight authority, authority always wins
I been doing it, since I was a young kid
I’ve come out grinnin’
I fight authority, authority always wins

I fight authority, authority always wins
I fight authority, authority always wins
I been doing it, since I was a young kid
I’ve come out grinnin’
I fight authority, authority always wins
Oh no
Oh no
I fight authority, authority always wins

I fight authority, authority always wins
I fight authority, authority always wins
I been doing it, since I was a young kid
I’ve come out grinnin’
I fight authority, authority always wins
I fight authority, authority always wins
I fight authority, authority always wins
I been doing it, since I was a young kid
I’ve come out grinnin’
I fight authority, authority always wins