Tuesday, November 18, 1997

John Mellencamp released The Best That I Could Do: 1978-1988 compilation

First posted 9/17/2020.

The Best That I Could Do: 1978-1988

John Mellencamp

Released: November 18, 1997

Recorded: 1978-1988 + 1 new song

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

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

Genre: classic heartland rock

Tracks: (1) I Need a Lover (2) Ain’t Even Done with the Night (3) Hurts So Good (4) Jack and Diane (5) Crumblin’ Down (6) Pink Houses (7) Authority Song (8) Lonely Ol’ Night (9) Small Town (10) R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (11) Paper in Fire (12) Cherry Bomb (13) Check It Out (14) Without Expression

Total Running Time: 58:51


4.340 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

A Brief History:

Born in Seymour, Indiana, on October 7, 1951, John Mellencamp became one of the most important figures in heartland rock, a subset of classic rock which embraced Midwestern values. He first recorded under the name Johnny Cougar and later as John Cougar and eventually under his given name. He first found success with “I Need a Lover” in 1978 and had his major commercial breakthrough with 1982’s chart-topping American Fool and hit singles “Hurts So Good” and “Jack and Diane.”

From 1982 to 1987, Mellencamp recorded four multi-platinum, top-10 albums, each yielding at least two top-10 hits, including “Pink Houses,” “Small Town,” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” Those years are represented on this page, which covers seven studio albums, some of which have devoted DMDB pages (click on links below). All have brief snapshots on this page.

The Studio Albums:

Under each album snapshot, songs featured on the The Best That I Could Do are noted. Song titles are followed by the names of writers in parentheses, the song’s length in brackets, and then the date the song charted and its peaks on various charts. Click for codes to singles charts.

A Biography (1978):

This was the third album recorded by John Mellencamp, then known as Johnny Cougar. It didn’t get released in the U.S. because of poor sales of his 1976 debut, Chestnut Street Incident. His second album, The Kid Inside, was recorded in 1977, but wasn’t released until after the success of 1982’s American Fool. The song “I Need a Lover” became a top-ten hit in Australia and was included on his next American album, John Cougar.

  • I Need a Lover (1978, 28 US, 5 AU)

John Cougar (1979):

This was Mellencamp’s first album with Riva Records and his first to be released under the name John Cougar. The album included “I Need a Lover” and a re-worked version of “Taxi Dancer,” both songs initially featured on A Biography, which wasn’t released in the U.S. The single “Miami” hit #31 in Australia and “Small Paradise” hit #87 in the U.S., but neither song was featured on The Best That I Can Do.

Nothin’ Matters and What if It Did (1980):

Mellencamp (still going by the name John Cougar at the time) followed up the success of “I Need a Lover” with two more top-40 hits from this album. “This Time” hit #27 and “Ain’t Even Done with the Night,” featured on The Best That I Can Do, became Mellencamp’s first top-20 hit.

  • Ain’t Even Done with the Night (1/31/81, 17 US, 44 AR, 15 CN)

American Fool (1982):

John Cougar hit the big time with American Fool, which hit the top of the Billboard album chart in the U.S. and gave him two top-10 hits as well as a top-20 hit with “Hand to Hold Onto,” the latter of which isn’t on The Best That I Could Do.

  • Hurts So Good (4/24/82, 2 US, 1 AR, 3 CN, 5 AU, sales: ½ million)
  • Jack and Diane (6/26/82, 1 US, 3 AR, 25 UK, 1 CN, 7 AU, sales: ½ million)

Uh-Huh (1983):

After the success of American Fool, Mellencamp came right back the next year with another multi-platinum, top-10 album featuring two more top-10 hits and another top-20 hit.

  • Crumblin’ Down (10/15/83, 9 US, 2 AR, 9 CN, 42 AU)
  • Pink Houses (10/29/83, 8 US, 3 AR, 15 CN, 69 AU)
  • Authority Song (2/18/84, 15 US, 15 AR, 41 CN, 93 AU)

Scarecrow (1985):

While it didn’t top the album chart (it peaked at #2), Scarecrow matched the five-million mark in sales he’d previously reached with American Fool. With three top-10 hits, this was his most successful album in terms of singles.

  • Lonely Ol’ Night [3:45] (8/17/85, 6 US, 1 AR, 37 AC, 7 CN, 32 AU)
  • Small Town [3:41] (9/14/85, 6 US, 2 AR, 13 AC, 53 UK, 13 CN, 80 AU)
  • 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)

The Lonesome Jubilee (1987):

For the fourth time, Mellencamp delivered a top-10, multi-platinum album with at least two top-10 hits.

  • Paper in Fire [3:53] (8/15/87, 9 US, 1 AR, 86 UK, 3 CN, 13 AU)
  • Cherry Bomb [4:49] (9/5/87, 8 US, 1 AR, 12 AC, 5 CN, 20 AU)
  • Check It Out [4:20] (2/6/88, 14 US, 3 AR, 96 UK, 10 CN, 22 AU)

The Best That I Could Do: 1978-1988 (1997):

After 1996’s Mr. Happy Go Lucky, John Mellencamp left Mercury Records for Columbia. Naturally Mercury wanted to capitalize on the singer’s years with them and released a compilation. However, the set inexplicably opted to ignore the 1989-1996 years. The fact that they opted to have the set stop after 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee makes some sense in that it marked the end of his multi-platinum days, but considering that all his 1989-1996 studio albums reached platinum status and produced a fair amont of hits as well, it seemed obvious that there should be a second volume.

Still, there’s no arguing with what’s here. There are nine top-10 hits, including his #1 hit Jack and Diane from 1982. Even then, though, with a running time just shy of an hour, there’s room for four or five more cuts and stay under the CD cap length. The most notable absences include “This Time,” “Hand to Hold Onto,” “Rain on the Scarecrow,” and “Rumbleseat,” all top-40 hits in the U.S.

The set also includes one new song, Mellencamp’s recording of the Terry Reid song “Without Expression.” It makes for an odd edition as it was recorded a decade after everything else on the compilation. An archival recording, B-side, live cut, or alternate version of a song would have made more sense.

  • Without Expression (11/29/97, 25 AR, 14 CN)

Notes: The Japanese edition of the album included “Miami” and “Under the Boardwalk.”

Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, November 4, 1997

Shania Twain released Come on Over

First posted 3/27/2008; updated 12/3/2020.

Come on Over

Shania Twain

Released: November 4, 1997

Peak: 2 US, 150 CW, 111 UK, 15 CN, 120 AU

Sales (in millions): 20.0 US, 3.34 UK, 40.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: country

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Man! I Feel Like a Woman! [3:53] (11/15/97, #18a US, 3 UK, 4 CW, 16 AC, gold single)
  2. I’m Holdin’ on to Love to Save My Life [3:30] (7/8/00, #17 CW)
  3. Love Gets Me Every Time [3:33] (10/4/97, #25 US, 1 CW, gold single)
  4. Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) [3:35] (11/15/97, #40 US, 5 UK, 6 CW)
  5. From This Moment On (with Bryan White) [4:43] (11/15/97, #4 US, 9 UK, 58 CW)
  6. Come on Over [2:55] (11/15/97, #43a US, 6 CW)
  7. When [3:39] (6/13/98, #18 UK)
  8. Whatever You Do, Don’t! [3:49]
  9. If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask! [4:04]
  10. You’re Still the One [3:34] (1/24/98, #2 US, 10 UK, 1 CW, 1 AC, platinum single)
  11. Honey, I’m Home [3:39] (11/15/97, #1 CW)
  12. That Don’t Impress Me Much [3:38] (12/12/98, #5a US, 3 UK, 8 CW, 8 AC)
  13. Black Eyes, Blue Tears [3:39]
  14. I Won’t Leave You Lonely [4:13]
  15. Rock This Country [4:23] (1/15/00, #30 CW)
  16. You’ve Got a Way [3:24] (6/19/99, #42a US, 13 CW, 6 AC)

All tracks written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange.

Total Running Time: 60:06


4.051 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The come-from-nowhere success of Shania Twain’s previous album, The Woman in Me, proved that the world was ready for a combination of traditional instruments, girl-power themes, and dance-pop dynamics. Whether Twain is a modern-day Dolly Parton or a country music Spice Girl is a matter of perspective. But with her third album, she accentuates the sing-along choruses and simple dance rhythms while downplaying the country elements.” MM

The album became the best-selling country album of all-time, as well as the best-seller by a woman and by a Canadian. WK Powered by eight country top-ten hits, including three #1’s, Come on Over spent a whopping 50 weeks atop the country chart. The album received Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Country Album. The song You’re Still the One landed four nominations, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Country Song, and Best Female Country Vocal Performance, winning the latter two. The album’s power was still kicking a year later when she won each of those two awards again – but this time for Come on Over and Man! I Feel Like a Woman! respectively.

“The emphasis is on fun rather than depth, of course.” MM Like The Woman in Me, this album was powered by “quite radio-friendly” songs MM produced and co-written by “Mutt” Lange. The man who Twain married in 1993 brought the same sensibility for catchy hits as he’d done producing iconic rock albums for Bryan Adams, AC/DC, the Cars, Def Leppard, and Foreigner. Entertainment Weekly “praised the album for successfully incorporating a substantial rock influence without losing its country sensibilities.” WK


An international version of the CD was released in 1999 that contained some remixes of the original tracks and a different track listing.

Review Sources:

Related DMDB Page(s):

Saturday, September 6, 1997

Elton John performed “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Di’s funeral

First posted 9/6/2011; updated 4/6/2020.

Candle in the Wind 1997

Elton John

Writer(s): Elton John/Bernie Taupin (see lyrics here)

Released: September 13, 1997

First Charted: September 6, 1997

Peak: 114 US, 32 RR, 5 AC, 22 A40, 15 UK, 11 CN, 16 (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 11.0 US, 5.4 UK, 37.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 4.0 radio, 24.9 video, -- streaming



According to Elton John, lyricist Bernie Taupin called “Candle in the Wind” “the best song we’ve ever written.” KL It charted three times in three decades with three versions. The original was a tribute to Marilyn Monroe and hit #11 in 1974 in the U.K. In the U.S., when DJs latched on to “Bennie and the Jets” the planned single release was aborted, RS500 but a live version would hit #6 on the pop chart and #2 on the adult contemporary chart in 1987.

The song’s greatest success came when Princess Diana died in a car crash on August 31, 1997. Elton proposed the idea to Taupin of revising the lyrics as a eulogy. Within the hour, Taupin had faxed the new words to John. HL Elton performed the only public performance of the revamped version at Diana’s funeral for a televised worldwide audience of more than 2.5 billion people. BR1 After the funeral, Elton headed to the studio with famed Beatles’ producer George Martin to record the song. BR1

When released in the U.K., the song went straight to #1 on the strength 658,000 copies sold in a single day. The song amassed 2 million in sales by the end of its second week and logged another million in the next week. MG In 2008, the song had moved more than 5 million, making it the U.K.’s biggest seller ever. MG

The U.S. matched that number just in advance orders BR1 and would go on to 11 million in sales. MG Worldwide, it ranks as one of the top 100 best-selling songs in the world. Only Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, with estimates as high as 56 million, has sold more. The song topped the charts in 11 countries,” BB100 most notably with an astonishing 45 weeks at #1 in Canada. MG Its 14 weeks atop the U.S. charts make it one of the biggest #1 pop songs in U.S. chart history.

Resources and Related Links:

Sunday, August 31, 1997

Concert: Bob Dylan

image from n-b-u.de/show_kansas_city.htm

Venue: Spiritfest – Liberty Memorial Park; Kansas City, MO
Tour: Never Ending Tour

What I remember most about this show: There were at least a half-dozen of us who went to this outdoor, general admission festival. Jerry, the Bob Dylan fanatic of the bunch, went that morning to stake out a spot up close. The rest of us arrived later and camped out about ten feet from the stage. During the show, we had to lock arms together to preserve our prime spots and keep others from pushing in front of us!

The Set List:

1. Absolutely Sweet Marie
2. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
3. Tough Mama
4. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
5. Silvio
6. Stone Walls and Steel Bars (Stanley Brothers cover)
7. Mr. Tambourine Man
8. Tangled Up in Blue
9. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
10. Tears of Rage
11. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat


12. Like a Rolling Stone
13. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
14. Highway 61 Revisited

Saturday, August 30, 1997

Francis Craig's "Near You" Begins Its 17 Week Run at #1 fifty years ago today (8/30/1947)

First posted 8/30/2016; updated 1/23/2020.

Near You

Francis Craig with Bob Lamm

Writer(s):Kermit Goell/Francis Craig (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 9, 1947

Peak: 117 US, 13 GA, 16 HP, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.5 US, -- UK, 2.5 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming



It shouldn’t be a surprise that with 17 weeks at #1, Francis Craig’s “Near You” was ranked by Billboard magazine as the #1 song of 1947. WK That, however, wasn’t the song’s most significant achievement. Those 17 weeks also make “Near You” the biggest #1 pop song in Billboard history. In fact, Craig also held the record for more than 60 years for the artist with the most consecutive weeks at #1. He was surpassed in 2009 by the Black Eyed Peas – who took TWO songs to accomplish the feat with their back-to-back #1’s for “Boom Boom Pow” (12 weeks) and “I Gotta Feeling”(14 weeks). WK

Astonishingly, though, it was one of only two chart hits for Craig. When “Near You” charted, he was a has-been orchestra leader closing in on his 50th birthday. Francis Craig was a Nashville-based pianist and composer who had led bands since the 1920s, PM including a band at the city’s Hermitage Hotel which he’d led for 20 years. TY He was also a staff member of a Nashville radio station for 25 years, and was on NBC for 12 years TY with a Sunday night network program.

However his dance-band format was out of style in post World War II. Still, he decided to record his theme song, “Red Rose”, for Bullet Records. WK Needing a B-side, TY he also recorded “Near You”. He had written the melody as a gift for his grandchildren and was given an assist on the lyrics by New Yorker Kermit Goell. WK Blind singer and trumpeter Bob Lamm contributed the vocals. WK With 2.5 million copies sold, it was the first major hit on an independent label. PM

In 1977, George Jones and Tammy Wynette took the song back to the top – as a #1 country song. In 1959, Jerry Lee Lewis recorded an instrumental version of the song. WK Others who recorded the song included the Andrews Sisters (#4), Nat “King” Cole, Larry Green (#3), Elliot awrence (#9), Alvino Rey (#9), Andy Williams, and Roger Williams (#10, 1958). WK Milton Berle used “Near You” as his closer on his Texaco Star Theater. It became his theme song for years afterward. WK

Resources and Related Links:

  • Francis Craig’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Rememberd Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 144.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 132.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 66.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 102.
  • WK Wikipedia.org