Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"Rain on the Scarecrow" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Song#:  2706
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  64
Peak:  21
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Mellencamp's Scarecrow album was on its way to selling over five million copies thanks to three Top 10 hits. After the third single, "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," made it to #2 this album opening track was selected to be the follow-up. The song reached #16 at Rock while just missing out on the Pop Top 20. It was Mellencamp's twelfth Top 40 hit. In addition to being a big hit, the Scarecrow album would also be a critical success. It would later be placed at #95 on the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Best Albums of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  While I think this was a good single choice, it was pretty dark and serious for pop radio. The story of a third generation farmer losing his land and most all that goes with it was not necessarily something synthpop loving teeny boppers could relate to, yet the song nearly cracked the Top 20. It think it showed how popular Mellencamp and his music was at the time and demonstrated that if done right, listeners can relate to a serious, topical song. I also think that the song's MTV video and the issues raised by Mellecamp's Farm Aid concert effort certainly helped. It's one of Mellencamp's hardest hitting songs and as the opening track of Scarecrow it set the tone for the LP and showed that Mellencamp was maturing as a songwriter. And if I haven't mentioned it before, Kenny Aronoff's drumming on this album is master class killer.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The lead single from the album, "Lonely Ol' Night," wasn't the only song on Scarecrow to contain a movie reference. This track did too. The lyrics go: "He said 'John, it's just my job and I hope you understand.' Hey calling it your job old hoss sure don't make it right." This line stems from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman. In the film, Newman's character, Luke, is in chain gang prison and at one point he is sent to a tiny solitary confinement area called "the box." When being taken there, the guard says, "sorry Luke, I'm just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that." Luke then replies "nah, calling it your job don't make it right, Boss." The film was a box office hit and was nominated for four Oscars including Best Actor for Newman. George Kennedy won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film.



  1. 8/10 for me as well, I'm not the biggest John Mellencamp fan but have always thought this was one of his underrated hits.

    1. Yes, it is rarely heard anymore. Mellencamp is one on my all-time favorite artists.