Five on Friday: Rain on the Scarecrow

It wasn’t until I was a freshman in High School that I went to my second real rock concert. And it was my first without parental supervision. Well, they did drive me there since I was still pre-driver’s license, but they dropped us off – so it still counts, right?

So my second rock concert was John Cougar Mellencamp’s Scarecrow Tour. Post “Johnny Cougar” – Pre “John Mellencamp” – At this point he was using all three names.

I have had a hot/cold, on-again/off-again relationship with JCM’s music throughout my life. There have been times that I have loved it and other times that I was “over” it. But that is kind of how I feel about him as an artist. He has always teetered on the line between being a really good singer/songwriter and being an over-blown caricature of himself.

Typically, if I really like an artist, I like their body of work. I want whole albums and not just greatest hits compilations. But with JCM, even with those, I tend to only really enjoy a little over half of the songs.

But, even after saying that, I like JCM. He has some great music in his catalog. I was a big fan when a lot of my peers were listening to the spandex-clad, hair & glam rock – a genre of music that I never really got into. I think that the kind of music I was listening to back then (JCM, Springsteen, Tom Petty, etc.) was the beginning of my love for Americana and alt.Country. And I will always respect him for what he has been able to accomplish with the Farm Aid benefit concert & organization, along with Willie Nelson & Neil Young.

And I’m glad I got to see him live.

Here are some of his better tunes (in my opinion)…


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3 thoughts on “Five on Friday: Rain on the Scarecrow

  1. You encapsulated how I feel about Mellencamp. It is a rather arms length love/hate relationship. Having said that, “Lonely Ol’ Night” is a great song and this is an excellent example of some of his best work.

  2. I have to say “ditto” to your description of how you feel about Mellencamp. The stuff I like I really like. Then there’s the stuff about which I’m essentially indifferent.

  3. My favorites are Authority Song and Rumble Seat. I kind of feel like they are the same song, but Authority Song has the perspective of a kid and Rumble Seat has a more experienced perspective.

    Also, as Chuck Klosterman has pointed out JCM could “cross over” with different crowds. The same kids who loved spandex/hairspray music would often listen to JCM as a guilty pleasure.

    Plus he gave Lisa Germano her break so he gets the benefit of the doubt.
    In the end, though he is cursed by trying to prove how smart he is on every album. If you look at his song titles on later discs they often reference books by Faulkner, McMurty, etc. He is just to self-aware/self-conscious.

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