10. Peaceful World (with India.Aire)

Cuttin’ Heads was a very strange John Mellencamp record. It featured lots of strong duets, like this one (a hippie ballad with the alternative folk sensation known for the proud to be black soft rock hit, Video), and others with Trisha Yearwood and even Chuck D. I think most of his fans rejected the record, but I really enjoyed it.

Plus, it’s important whenever you make a top 10 list to have at least one song nobody will agree with.  Basic blogger logic.

Further listening: If you can still find the Best Buy Bonus Disc, don’t miss his take on the traditional, “In My Time of Dying.” For another great duet, check out his cover of Van Morrison’s Wild Night, with the great M’Shell N’Dege O’Cello.

9. When Jesus Left Birmingham

Human Wheels was, in my opinion, the most underrated of all Mellencamp’s albums. If you dig into the record, you’ll find gems like the minor hit, “What If I Came Knocking?” and deep cuts like “Beige to Beige” and “Junior.” The record was released during a transitional period for him, along with Whenever We Wanted and Dance Naked, between his most popular, roots/Americana work in the late 1980s and presaging experimental stuff like Mr. Happy Go Lucky and Cuttin’ Heads.

Oh, and the video is fucking bizarre. Watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

Further listening: For more of his work that has a strong gospel and blues feel, don’t miss his 2014 live album, Trouble No More Live at Town Hall, which has an extraordinary cover of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” along with some blues standards and interesting reworkings of old classics. As far as whole albums go, I think it’s his absolute best.

8. I Need a Lover

A bigger hit for Pat Benetar than JCM, this is a great example of 1980s rock/pop.

Further listening: Hurt So Good.

Cover versions: Finally, a song with some good cover versions! Pat’s up top, and here’s….

7. Lonely Ol’ Night

A great song about loneliness and hook-ups.

Further listening: Ain’t Even Done with the Night.

Covers: I love this acoustic instrumental, and Arianna’s version is totally cool.

6. Paper in Fire

The lyrics to this song are tremendous.

Further listening: Other wistful, “the best days are in the past” songs include Cherry Bomb, Minutes to Memories, and Check It Out.

The top 5 are next!

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