5 Interesting Facts And Stories Behind ‘R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.’ By John Mellencamp
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“R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” was the third single from John Mellencamp’s 1985 album “Scarecrow.” It was a top-ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, and became one of his most loved songs. Let’s check out facts and stories about it:
1. It’s subtitled “A Salute to ’60s Rock”.
It was the story of the emergence of rock ‘n roll in America. “I don’t think people are getting the idea of what the song’s about,” Mellencamp said, “so I must’ve not done a very good job.”
2. Unlike the other songs on “Scarecrow”, this one wasn’t satirical.
He was initially reluctant to include “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” in the LP because it was a light-hearted track and it might be out of place in a record with grim songs like “Rain on the Scarecrow” and “Face of the Nation”.
3. He said that the single “was one of those absolute last-split-second decisions.”
“I was only including it on the cassette and CD copies of Scarecrow as a bonus party track,” he told Timothy White in a 1986 interview, “but my manager loved the energy of it and I thought, ‘Yeah! What the hell!'”
4. He referenced several artists in the lyrics like Frankie Lyman, Bobby Fuller, Mitch Ryder, Jackie Wilson, Shangra La’s, Young Rascals, Martha Reeves and James Brown.
“When I played in Albuquerque, I think it was, his [Fuller’s] mom and some of his family came down to see me play,” Mellencamp recalled. “They acted like I gave them 60 million dollars just for mentioning his name. They gave me his belt that he died in.”
5. Mellencamp revealed that the riff was lifted from Neil Diamond’s classic hit, “Cherry, Cherry.”
The instrumental break became one of the highlights of the song.