John Mellencamp “Scarecrow”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#432 in the Series) is John Mellencamp, Scarecrow

I was not even close to being a John Mellencamp fan when this was released. I was not even close to ever being interested in buying one of his  albums and definitely was never interested in buying a John Cougar album either.  I will admit that the long version of “I Need a Lover” isn’t too bad; I’ll give him that one.

As time went on, I started reading that John wasn’t a big fan of some of the other things either, and he especially wasn’t a fan of the way Riva Records wanted to package him as some a pop star. He’d write and sing about that later. Scarecrow would be, in fact, his first recording not for Riva, This would be on Mercury.  Oh, and Riva was now no more. That sounds like a good thing.

Yes, much of my “not like too much” feeling on JM would change when this was released. I remember once picking up a friend at Midway Airport and he saw this in my ‘cassette’ collection and was let’s say, quite surprised.

Yeah, things changed when this album came out. Did John grow up? Did he finally have enough pull to record the album HE wanted?  Like most multiple choice questions like this, it’s usually a compilation of the all, or both in this case.

This was a grown up album. This album had a grown up theme. That was a combination of life in small town America and also the life of the plight of the American farmer.  He would highlight that in some what title track “Rain on the Scarecrow.”

This was produced by Don Gehman. Don also produced albums for Brian Setzer, The Knife Feels Like Justice, and REM’s Life’s Rich Pageant and many others.

This album also went a long way to get Farm Aid off the ground. He and Willie Nelson and Neil Young have been staging it just about every year since this time.

— Larry Carta

Track listing

All songs written by John Mellencamp, except where noted.

  1. “Rain on the Scarecrow” (Mellencamp, George M. Green) – 3:46
  2. “Grandma’s Theme” (traditional) – 0:56
  3. “Small Town” – 3:41
  4. “Minutes to Memories” (Mellencamp, Green) – 4:11
  5. “Lonely Ol’ Night” – 3:45
  6. “The Face of the Nation” – 3:13
  7. “Justice and Independence ’85” – 3:32
  8. “Between a Laugh and a Tear” – 4:32
  9. “Rumbleseat” – 2:58
  10. “You’ve Got to Stand for Somethin'” – 4:32
  11. “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to ’60s Rock)” – 2:54
  12. “The Kind of Fella I Am” (cassette and CD only)^ – 2:55
  13. “Small Town” (acoustic version) (2005 re-issue bonus track) – 4:14



  • John Mellencamp – vocals, guitar
  • Larry Crane – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, backing vocals
  • Kenny Aronoff – drums, tambourine, vibes, backing vocals
  • Mike Wanchic – electric guitars, backing vocals
  • Toby Myers – electric bass, backing vocals


  • John Cascella – keyboards
  • Rickie Lee Jones – vocals on “Between a Laugh and a Tear”
  • Sarah Flint – background vocals on “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”
  • Laura Mellencamp (John Mellencamp’s grandmother) – lead vocal on “Grandma’s Theme”
  • Mimi Mapes – backing vocals on “Minutes to Memories”
  • A. Jack Wilkins – saxophone on “Justice and Independence ’85”
  • Richard Fanning – trumpet on “Justice and Independence ’85”
  • Ry Cooder – slide guitar on “The Kind of Fella I Am”

Posted by Larry Carta

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