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Editors’ Notes

In the 1980s, with each successive studio album, John Mellencamp found his authorial voice. 1985’s Scarecrow delves into populist chants (“R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to ‘60s Rock”), populist sloganeering (“You’ve Got to Stand For Something” – or you’ll fall for anything) and populist storytelling (“Small Town”) with its rock n’ roll credentials on full display, courtesy of Mellencamp’s snarling rhythm guitars and drummer Kenny Aronoff’s unrelenting backbeat. This economical, back-to-basics drive captured the wave of ‘80s Americana rock like no other. While no one can say for sure what Mellencamp had in mind when he penned “Justice and Independence ’85,” a lyric that wants to say great things but falls short of coherence, there’s no question that “Lonely Ol’ Night” and “Rumbleseat” desire to bring a nostalgic old time rock n’ roll memory back to life, while “Rain on the Scarecrow,” “The Face of the Nation” and “Small Town” wish to give comfort and deserved attention to people living on what’s become society’s margins.  The duet with Rickie Lee Jones on “Between a Laugh and A Tear” shows “Jack and Diane,” that is John Mellencamp, all grown up.

Customer Reviews

Minutes to Memories - Best track on a superb album

Possibly the strongest cut on the album, Minutes to Memories, has gotten the least press. Small Town, Rain on the Scarecrow and Rumble Seat are all great songs, but none have the power and elegance of Minutes to Memories. The story of one generations legacy to another make this the standout track on possibly the best album of the 80's.

The Great American Album of the 80s

John Mellencamp probably never meant to be "An Artist", but by writing about the world he knew (Midwest America) and bending rock to his roots, he achieved a timeless classic. Alternately pessimistic and joyous, introspective and outgoing, angry and laughing, Scarecrow made even the critics on the coast take notice that something worthwhile was going on in the Hoosier heartland. Delivering on the promise of "Pink Houses", Scarecrow shows Mellencamp maturing as a songwriter and the band as a unit.

Perfect for its time and holding up well

In the mid 80's, it didn't seem that you could make an album better than Scarecrow. Twenty years later, most of the music holds up quite well. Justice and Indepence 85 is still as relevant today as it was decades earlier, and Rain on the Scarecrow and Minutes to Memories get better as the listener gets older because the messages resonate a little more. A couple of the melodies seem sophomoric in hindsight (Lonely Ol' Night, Kind of Fella..., etc.), but as a whole, Scarecrow is a keeper for the generations to follow.


Born: October 7, 1951 in Seymour, IN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Throughout his career, John Mellencamp has had to fight, whether it was for the right to record under his own name or for respect as an artist. Of course, he never made it easy on himself. Mellencamp began his career in the late '70s as a Bruce Springsteen clone called Johnny Cougar. As his career progressed, his music became more distinctive, developing into a Stonesy blend of hard rock and folk-rock. His musical development coincided with his growth in popularity -- by the time "Hurts So Good"...
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