Monday, August 5, 1985

John Cougar Mellencamp released Scarecrow

First posted 6/22/2010; updated 9/20/2020.


John Cougar Mellencamp

Released: August 5, 1985

Peak: 2 US, -- UK, 2 CN, 2 AU

Sales (in millions): 5.4 US, -- UK, 5.4 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic heartland rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Rain on the Scarecrow (Green/ Mellencamp) [3:45] (9/21/85, 21 US, 16 AR, 34 AU)
  2. Grandma’s Theme (public domain) [0:55]
  3. Small Town [3:41] (9/14/85, 6 US, 2 AR, 13 AC, 53 UK, 13 CN, 80 AU)
  4. Minutes to Memories (Green/ Mellencamp) [4:11] (1/18/86, 14 AR)
  5. Lonely Ol’ Night [3:45] (8/17/85, 6 US, 1 AR, 37 AC, 7 CN, 32 AU)
  6. The Face of the Nation [3:13]
  7. Justice and Independence ‘85 [3:31] (11/30/85, 28 AR)
  8. Between a Laugh and a Tear [4:30]
  9. Rumbleseat [2:57] (6/28/86, 28 US, 4 AR, 84 AU)
  10. You’ve Got to Stand for Somethin’ [4:31]
  11. R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. [2:54] (9/14/85, 2 US, 6 AR, 36 AC, 67 UK, 7 CN, 18 AU)
  12. The Kind of Fella I Am [2:56]

Songs written by John Mellencamp unless otherwise noted.

Total Running Time: 40:49


4.419 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)

Quotable: “One of the definitive blue-collar rock albums of the mid-‘80s.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


About the Album:

Uh-Huh found John Mellencamp coming into his own, but he perfected his heartland rock with Scarecrow.” STE “Though the comparison has often been applied to him unfairly, it’s fair to say that Scarecrow is to John Cougar Mellencamp what Born in the U.S.A. is to Bruce Springsteen: a hugely popular hit that solidified both his fan base and his critical reputation. The one important difference is that U.S.A.’s message was largely misinterpreted (Ronald Reagan co-opted the title song in a manner that’s tragically ironic), while Scarecrow’s ode to Mellencamp’s native Indiana comes through loud and clear.” RS

The album was Mellencamp’s third in a row to reach multi-platinum status, hit the top 10, and spawn at least two top-10 singles. In regards to the latter, this could arguably be considered his most successful album in that it sent three songs into the top ten – “Lonely Ol’ Night,” “Small Town,” and R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.. The latter, an ode to his rock-n-roll roots, became his most successful single since 1982’s #1 “Jack and Diane.”

Scarecrow is “a loose concept album about lost innocence and the crumbling of small-town America,” STE even more specifically “the hopes and fears of Middle America.” STE Mellencamp’s “writing has never been more powerful” STE especially on songs like Rain on the Scarecrow when he laments the plight of the American farmer and on Small Town when he celebrates small community life, singing “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.”

Songs like “Lonely Ol’ Night and Rumbleseat effortlessly convey the desperate loneliness of being stuck in a dead-end life.” STE “While the rest of the album isn’t quite as strong, that’s only a relative term, since it’s filled with lean hooks and powerful, economical playing that make Scarecrow one of the definitive blue-collar rock albums of the mid-‘80s.” STE

Notes: A reissue of the album added an acoustic version of “Small Town.”

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