Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60's Rock)" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2609
Date:  02/01/1986
Debut:  54
Peak:  2
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  By this time, Mellemcamp's Scarecrow album had generated two #6 hits with "Lonely Ol' Night" and "Small Town." Looking for a third single to join them, this album closing track was selected. It would end up surpassing the previous two songs to reach #2 on the Pop chart and become the third biggest single of his career. It would also get to #6 at Rock and #36 AC. The hit would help sell more albums and eventually Scarecrow would be certified 5x platinum, which tied it with 1982's American Fool as his best selling album.

ReduxReview:  This short blast of rock was exactly that - a blast. The energy from Mellencamp and band practically jumped off the vinyl. Mellencamp had his band learn a bunch of old hits prior to recording the album and that learning lesson paid off the best on this track. In less than three minutes there was history, admiration, respect and lessons all projected in Mellencamp's lyrics and a hot band. Whether you appreciated what Mellencamp was saying or just tuned in for fun (or both), there was just no denying that this was a cool-as-shit song and one of his best crowd-pleasing singles.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  As the subtitle of the song states, Mellencamp wrote this as a tribute to the sounds and artists from the 60s that influenced him. It also is about how these bold artists took risks in their lives and careers to push the boundaries of music. In the song, eight specific artists that inspired Mellencamp were called out including James Brown, Mitch Ryder, and Martha Reeves. One other artist mentioned was Bobby Fuller. Fuller had at #9 hit in 1966 with "I Fought the Law" (credited to the Bobby Fuller Four), a song that certainly inspired Mellencamp to write his "Authority Song" (#15, 1984). Fuller and his band were popular in Texas in the early 60s, but it took a few years to prove themselves worthy of a major label deal. After gaining some attention with the song "Let Her Dance," they issued out "I Fought the Law." It made the Top 10 in March of '66. However, the band's career would come to a halt a few months later in July when Fuller was found dead in his mother's car that was parked outside of his Hollywood apartment. He was only 23. His death was ruled as an accidental suicide from asphyxiation from gas fumes, but there has always been speculation that he was murdered. Some people say that Charles Manson was involved with Fuller's death while others think it was hit related to a record deal that Fuller had backed out of and the other party in the deal had Mafia ties. The case has been the subject of a book and was even featured on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries.


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