Song of the Day #4,366: ‘Beige To Beige’ – John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp’s Human Wheels, my #3 album of 1993, was the roots rocker’s 12th studio release. And he’s recorded 12 more since, during a career that has now spanned more than 40 years.

That’s quite a legacy for a man whose first album was released (without his knowledge) under the name Johnny Cougar, sold just over 10,000 copies, and prompted his label to drop him.

Six years later, American Fool went 5X Platinum and topped the Billboard album chart for nine weeks. Over the next decade, Mellencamp released a series of very good albums and cemented his place as a talented singer-songwriter with a unique perspective on America’s heartland.

Human Wheels was his second album released under his given name, after 15 years escaping variations of the Cougar moniker. As much as I’d enjoyed his previous work, this was the album that really turned me on to him as an artist to follow.

Combining his usual rock sound with elements of pop and gospel, this album keeps you guessing from track to track. Opener ‘When Jesus Left Birmingham’ is a highlight of Mellencamp’s whole catalog, a perfect blend of vocals and production.

Mellencamp offers up character sketches (‘Junior’), folk tales (‘Case 795,’ ‘Suzanne and the Jewels’), and trips down memory lane (‘Sweet Evening Breeze’). ‘What if I Came Knocking’ is a furious rocker that spent a couple of weeks atop the Album Rock Tracks chart.

Today’s track, ‘Beige to Beige,’ has always been a favorite of mine. A broadside against conformity, it ambles along oozing Mellencamp’s rootsy charm. A great track from a great album.

No songs on the stereo
That we could sing with anymore
No dance that I can do
That would not embarrass you
A sound bite here and there
With no reason for me to care

It’s just beige to beige
That’s all it is these days
Little windows for you to crawl through
You just do what’s expected of you
It’s just beige to beige to beige
These days

Uniforms for this and that
To be in our club you must wear this hat
Charlie’s gonna look out for you
You just do what you’re supposed to do
You’re gonna fit in here
Just like you should
Learn the rules and learn them good

It’s just beige to beige
That’s all it is these days
Little windows for you to crawl through
You just do what’s expected of you
It’s just beige to beige to beige
These days

If you need a thought
We’ll give it to you
Our statistics show what we do is true
A world without color
Is a world without sound
A world to keep the rabble down
So close the deal, close the door
Forget about the colors that you knew before

It’s just beige to beige
That’s all it is these days, yeah
Little windows for you to crawl through
And Charlie gonna take care of you
It’s just beige to beige to beige
These days

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,366: ‘Beige To Beige’ – John Mellencamp

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This along with Lonesome Jubilee are my favorite Mellencamp albums.

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