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.

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Song of the Day #4,286: ‘Brothers’ – John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp released my favorite of his albums, Human Wheels, in 1983. Despite that record’s excellence, his label was reportedly unhappy with the result because it didn’t “fit the format.”

In response, Mellencamp delivered a follow-up album that he recorded in just two weeks, with few instruments and little attention to the production. You want the format, he was saying, I’ll give you the format. That album was 1984’s Dance Naked.

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Song of the Day #3,254: ‘My Hometown’ – Bruce Springsteen vs. John Mellencamp

At first blush, today’s Montauk Madness matchup has a student vs. master dynamic. Early in his career, John Cougar was viewed as a poor man’s Bruce Springsteen.

But John Mellencamp has carved out quite the career in the four decades since his debut. In fact, he’s released five more albums than Springsteen in three fewer years, and spanned a variety of styles along the way.

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Song of the Day #2,967: ‘The Breakout’ – John Mellencamp

mellencamp_dance_nakedJohn Mellencamp’s 13th album, 1994’s Dance Naked, was recorded and released by Mellencamp in a rush to spite the record company.

He was unhappy with the suits’ lukewarm response to his previous album, the excellent Human Wheels, so he aimed to deliver the sort of mindless rock-n-roll record they preferred.

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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.

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