Sunday, October 7, 2012

John Mellencamp was born (October 7, 1951)/ His Top 30 Songs

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America’s premiere heartland rocker was born on October 7, 1951. With his version of straightforward rock and roll in the same vein as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, he catapulted to stardom in 1982 with his #1 album, American Fool, which sported “Hurts So Good” (#2) and “Jack and Diane” (#1). His 1985 album, Scarecrow, was an even bigger seller with top ten hits “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” “Small Town,” and “Lonely Ol’ Night.”

By the 1990s, his hit-making days had waned and he, arguably, had a bit of a creative lull as well. However, in the 21st century he has roared back with a trio of overlooked albums (2007’s Freedom’s Road; 2008’s Life, Death, Love and Freedom; and 2010’s No Better Than This) which serve up Americana, Mellencamp style. The list below focuses on Mellencamp’s hits, but my personal list would include treasures from his recent work. They demonstrate how Mellencamp hasn’t lost any of his ability to write a catchy hit (“Our Country,” “My Sweet Love,” “Ride Back Home,” “No Better Than This”) even if radio has moved on. Mellencamp is also one of America’s best artists at making strong commentaries on his observations of life for the oppressed and disenfranchised (“Jena,” “Rural Route,” “Easter Eve”) or the effect policians have on people’s live (“Rodeo Clown”).

Sometimes he just makes a poignant statement about how he wants to be remembered when he’s gone (“If I Die Sudden”) – but let’s hope there are many more Mellencamp birthdays to celebrate before that day comes.

John Mellencamp’s Top 30 Songs
1. Jack and Diane (1982)
2. Hurts So Good (1982)
3. R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (1985)
4. Pink Houses (1983)
5. Small Town (1985)
6. Wild Night (with Me’shell Ndegeocello, 1994)
7. Crumblin’ Down (1983)
8. Authority Song (1983)
9. Lonely Ol’ Night (1985)
10. Cherry Bomb (1987)
11. Paper in Fire (1987)
12. I Need a Lover (1978)
13. Rain on the Scarecrow (1985)
14. Ain’t Even Done with the Night (1981)
15. Check It Out (1987)

16. Again Tonight (1991)
17. Pop Singer (1989)
18. Jackie Brown (1989)
19. Get a Leg Up (1991)
20. Human Wheels (1993)
21. Hand to Hold Onto (1982)
22. This Time (1980)
23. Key West Intermezzo (I Saw Her First) (1996)
24. Rumbleseat (1985)
25. Dance Naked (1994)
26. Just Another Day (1996)
27. Your Life Is Now (1998)
28. Play Guitar (1983)
29. Peaceful World (with India.Arie, 2001)
30. I’m Not Running Anymore (1998)


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