Song of the Day #2,600: ‘Case 795 (The Family)’ – John Mellencamp

human_wheels_mellencampJohn Mellencamp released 1993’s Human Wheels 17 years into his successful career. It’s been 22 years since. I’m a casual Mellencamp fan at best, but from a distance I view this record as a turning point for him.

He had certainly released his share of hits before Human Wheels. In fact, the seven albums prior to this one went platinum, and five of them went 3x or 5x platinum. But the songwriting and production on this record was on a different level, or at least a level that more directly connected with me.

On the albums that followed, Mellencamp followed his muse into less commercial territory, covering blues and folk standards and becoming more outspoken politically.

Mellencamp has always been under-appreciated, dismissed as a Springsteen wannabe, but he’s a talented and important American artist. This album is one exhibit among many proving that fact.

Tony Jones stabbed Alice Jones
On their first anniversary
Down in Dallas, Texas
In a small apartment
With nobody present.
He pulled out a knife
And he stuck it to her.
He left her bleeding
On the floor in the kitchen
With cake on her fingers
And her wedding ring on.
In her hand was a note
That said the wicked must suffer
And he drove off quickly
To his girlfriend’s apartment.
But who suffers in the end?
It’s easy enough for us to pretend that

Everything’s all right with the family.
Everything is safe here at home.
Everything’s all right with the family.
The beds are made but there’s no sheets on.

From the courtroom stand
Tony said he was sorry.
That he was sad and mixed up,
And he didn’t know what he was doing,
That he’d always loved Alice
And he begged for forgiveness.
So he threw himself
On the mercy of the jury
And he told how his father
Had beat and abused him
Back in grade school
In the basement den,
And that maybe prison
Was the best thing for him.
And he said, “Oh God, can you forgive me?” yeah
But who really suffers in the end?
It’s easy enough for us all to pretend that

Everything’s all right with the family.
Everything is safe here at home.
Everything’s all right with the family.
The beds are made but there’s no sheets on.

How many days does it take to make us weak?
And how many hours do people spend lonely?
In the heart of the heart the family lay dying
The ruin of a nation lies at our feet, yeah.

Everything’s all right with the family.
Everything is safe here at home.
Everything’s all right with the family.
The beds are made but there’s no sheets on.

Everything’s all right with the family.
Everything is safe here at home.
Everything’s all right with the family.
The beds are made but there’s no sheets on.

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One thought on “Song of the Day #2,600: ‘Case 795 (The Family)’ – John Mellencamp

  1. Dana says:

    I agree with most of what you said, though I think his transition began a few albums before Human Wheels. Scarecrow is a very good record (and one of Amy’s favorites) and I love Lonesome Jubilee. If you don’t own or haven’t heard those records, I think they are well worth your time.

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