I’ve been running my feature on the Greatest Of All Tunes for a year now, and I’m having lots of fun figuring out what songs to write about and hearing the cool cover versions. I hope you guys are liking it, too.
But my rule about one song per artist is hard to follow sometimes. I broke it for Prince, I broke it for Tom Petty. I’m not even doing GOATs for The Beatles or the Rolling Stones because it’s just too hard. And then there’s John Mellencamp.
He started as Johnny Cougar, a young upstart who covered some old 1950s classics and tried to add a bit of an Americana twinge to them, and then started racking up hits. Once he was established, he added his real last name to his stage name, becoming John Cougar Mellencamp for his groundbreaking “Uh-Huh” album that, in my opinion, laid the groundwork for what we now call Americana. And ultimately, he dropped “Cougar” altogether, and started making even more honest music.
Note: He may have dropped the Cougar name, but he started dating the cougar females. First Meg Ryan, and then he took Christie after Billy Joel was done with her. Here’s a little bit of a Howard Stern interview about it….
Mellencamp has had nearly two dozen top 40 hits, and has been nominated for 13 Grammies (he only won once), and even today, in his 60s, he’s releasing relevant, critically acclaimed music. The great Johnny Cash called him one of the best songwriters of all time.
So I can’t limit myself to just one song.
But even a top 10 is a challenge, because I want to be sure I cover the breadth and scope of his incredible career—if I just did my ten favorite songs, I might have the entire Scarecrow album on the list. So I tried to pick just a couple from any one record, and did my best to create a fair and balanced top 10…
Hit “next” and enjoy!