Thursday, October 27, 2022

"Jackie Brown" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Song#:  3964
Date:  07/15/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  48
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Americana, Folk-Rock

Pop Bits:  Although it still performed well, Mellencamp's "Pop Singer," became his first lead single from an album since 1980 to not make the Pop Top 10. The track, taken from his album Big Daddy, stalled a bit shy at #15 (#2 Rock). Hoping for a better result, this next track was issued out as the follow-up single. Although it would reach four different charts, the tune didn't fully catch fire. It would miss the Pop Top 40 while getting to #20 Rock, #31 AC, and #81 Country. Another track from the album, "Martha Say," was able to reach #8 Rock, but it was not officially released as a single. Despite not featuring a larger hit, the album still did well hitting #7 and going platinum.

ReduxReview:  So, the thing is that this is a great song with terrific melodies and a lovely folk arrangement/production. It was a personal song for Mellencamp and I think that came through in the recording. That said, would I have picked this as a single? Not a chance. A folk ballad about a guy unable to escape poverty was not going to burn up the Pop chart. Why the label and/or Mellecamp selected this as a second single was perplexing. I thought the obvious choice was the driving "Martha Say," which was a hit on Rock radio and had a similar feel to his 1983 #9 hit "Crumblin' Down." Still, the single did better than I would have expected topping out inside the Top 50. As a song, I'd rate this high. As a single, fairly low. So I'll split the difference here.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The 90s would bring changes for Mellencamp. In 1991, his first album of the decade became his first to finally just be credited to John Mellencamp. The "Cougar" was officially gone. That album, Whenever We Wanted To, found Mellencamp ditching the folk/Americana feel of his previous three albums in favor of his original rock sound. The album would get to #17 and go platinum. The balance of the 90s remained quite successful for Mellencamp. He would earn three more platinum albums along with a gold seller. He would also release a hits compilation that would end up selling over three million copies. Although he had less of a presence on the Pop chart, he was still able to grab three Pop Top 20 hits including the #3 "Wild Night," a duet with singer/songwriter/bassist Me'Shell Ndeg√©ocello. That track was a remake of a song written and recorded by Van Morrison. It served as the lead single from his fifth album Tupelo Honey. It would get to #28 Pop. Mellencamp would continue to record over the years with most of his efforts still making the Top 10 or Top 20. He would also branch out to other art forms. Mellencamp had been painting since he was a kid. Even while his music career was in full swing, he found time to study art and hone his skills. His work has been well received and he has had several showings and exhibitions. An overview of his works were published in the 2022 book John Mellencamp: American Paintings and Assemblages. Mellencamp has also dabbled in film (he starred in and directed 1992's Falling from Grace) and theater (he collaborated with Stephen King on the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.


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