Scarecrow captures the second when John Cougar Mellencamp, the rocker who as soon as declared “Nothin’ Issues and What If It Did,” got here to the conclusion, “You’ve Gotta Stand for Somethin’.” Mellencamp determined his somethin’ was the individuals who lived, beloved, and misplaced within the small cities scattered throughout the US, the People affected by the suffocating penalties of the Reagan Revolution creeping throughout the nation within the mid-Nineteen Eighties.
Smalltown America is a milieu that handled John Mellencamp effectively previously, offering the backdrop for each the rousing “Jack & Diane” and the biting “Pink Homes,” a pair of hits whose reputation helped obscure the grim cynicism lingering at their core. A fatalist by nature, Mellencamp selected to battle his instincts when composing the songs for 1985’s Scarecrow, tempering his Midwestern gloom with notes of inspiration and solidarity. Take “Lonely Ol’ Night time,” a cathartic rocker that served because the album’s first single: After singing it’s “a tragic, unhappy, unhappy, unhappy feelin’ if you’re livin’ on these in-betweens,” he presents an offhand reassurance “but it surely’s OK,” deflating pitch black loneliness lurking within the track’s verses. Equally, after providing a litany of anxieties on “Rumbleseat,” he ends the track on a observe of self-help triumphalism that appears at odds with the roiling paranoia delivered within the earlier stanzas.
All it is a deliberate selection, a part of Mellencamp positioning himself as an advocate for the on a regular basis American on Scarecrow. He was preventing for his or her hopes and goals, mourning the disappearing downtown drags, and preserving the reminiscences of the great instances. There are storm clouds gathering on the horizon, peeking by way of on the deceptively bouncy “The Face of the Nation” and swirling on the ominous opener “Rain on the Scarecrow,” a vivid portrait of the wreckage left behind when all of the farms in a city shut down. Mellencamp took this concern to coronary heart, organizing the Farm Help charity with Willie Nelson and Neil Younger simply after finishing Scarecrow. The near-simultaneous launch of the album and the staging of the live performance created an phantasm that Scarecrow had a political bent, which isn’t fairly true. Save the pointed “Rain on the Scarecrow,” Mellencamp avoids antagonistic politics—regardless of its stirring title, “You’ve Obtained to Stand for Somethin’” is a stroll down Boomer reminiscence lane that features as a proto-“We Didn’t Begin the Fireplace.” All through the album, he traffics in tales and nostalgia, portray an image of a center America so romantic that it may’ve served because the soundtrack for a Reagan marketing campaign commercial if it wasn’t for the pugnacious presentation of those songs.
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