Our 5 Picks From John Mellencamp’s ’80s Songs

Our 5 Picks From John Mellencamp’s ’80s Songs | Society Of Rock Videos

via John Mellencamp/YouTube

A Legendary Roots Rocker

With his brand of heartland rock, John Mellencamp had a string of hits in the ’80s that propelled him to stardom. His fellow rockers have nothing but praises for him with Johnny Cash calling him “one of the 10 best songwriters”. His body of work remains important in the genre and here, we look back at his greatest songs from the ’80s.

5. Crumblin’ Down (1983)

Co-written by Mellencamp and his longtime collaborator George Green, Green had already written some of the lyrics when Mellencamp contacted him. It was partly inspired by the rocker’s cousin who lost his job. He also described this as a “political song” and even told Rolling Stone that “Reagan was president – he was deregulating everything and the walls were crumbling down on the poor. the song was the last one recorded and the first single. It was a hit immediately. I felt like I was pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.”

4. Hurts So Good (1982)

At the time, he performed this classic under his stage name John Cougar. Written with Green, they completed the song pretty quickly. In an interview, Mellencamp admitted that he initially wrote this “as a joke”. He explained his inspiration in 2018: “When I first started playing in rock bands, I didn’t realize how crude and mean other fellas could be. How crude they were with women and how crude women were. That led me to write a song called ‘Hurts So Good’ because I was playing in these bars and I just could not believe the lows people would go to with each other. The thing that surprised me is that it fit my personality perfectly. I fit right in with all that.”

3. Small Town (1985)

Inspired by his own experiences while growing up in a small town in Indiana, he revealed in 2004 that he wrote it in his laundry room. He told Rolling Stone in 2013, “I wanted to write a song that said, ‘You don’t have to live in New York or Los Angeles to live a full life or enjoy your life.’ I was never one of those guys that grew up and thought, ‘I need to get out of here.’ It never dawned on me. I just valued having a family and staying close to friends.”

2. Jack and Diane (1982)

His most successful single, it’s based on the 1962 film “Sweet Bird of Youth.” However, he admitted that it was “a terrible record to make” and added that “When I play it on guitar by myself, it sounds great; but I could never get the band to play along with me. That’s why the arrangement’s so weird. Stopping and starting, it’s not very musical.”

1. Pink Houses

He got the idea for the song when he saw an old black man sitting outside his pink house. He waved to Mellencamp, and the rock icon waved back. Although it’s one of his best-known songs, he has said in the past that he’s not too happy with its final verse. He shared, “A long time ago, I wrote a song called ‘Pink Houses.’ Now when I hear that song, all I can think is: ‘Why didn’t I do a better job on the last verse?’ If I had written it today, the last verse would’ve had more meaning.”

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