John Mellencamp – circa 1987
“They come from the cities / And they come from the smaller towns / Beat up cars with guitars and drummers / Goin’ crash boom bam” – ‘R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.’ (John Mellencamp)
“Yeah, John Mellencamp has a history of being the biggest joke in rock ‘n’ roll, right?” says the man himself. The U.S. rock star is prone to such bouts of self-criticism – sometimes with good reason. In 1982 his career to date has been blighted by bad decisions and wrong turns but also has the seeds of greater promise. “I had no other option left but to just be myself,” he says in a moment of clarity. It’s a gambit that pays off handsomely with a simultaneous No. 1 album and single on 11 September 1982. “Most people give up too early…They just quit,” he sagely observes. John Mellencamp’s work is a testimony to tenacity.
John Mellencamp is born on 7 October 1951 in Seymour, Indiana, in the United States of America. His struggles begin right at the outset. The baby is born with spina bifida. A growth on the back of his neck requires corrective surgery when the child is 3 years old. John Mellencamp is the second of five children born to Richard and Marilyn Mellencamp. The couple has two other sons – Joe and Ted – and two daughters – Janet and Laura. When she was still Marilyn Joyce Lowe, John’s mother was runner-up in the 1946 Miss Indiana beauty contest. The man she married, Richard Mellencamp, became an executive at Robbins Electric.
The hard-working Richard Mellencamp is not around the family home much. He is a stern disciplinarian. When his sons disagree with him, the matter is settled with a backyard bare-knuckles brawl. “I found out who I was on a primal level each time my Dad and I would have fist fights,” John claims. The kids are sent to the ‘ultra-fundamentalist’ First Church of the Nazarene. Young John’s differences with the church are not settled by a fist-fight with God. He just begins skipping church services and Bible classes when he is 13.
As a teenager, John Mellencamp is a notorious bad boy in school. His rebellious behaviour sometimes lands him in trouble with the law.
Whatever his troubles at home or school, he finds an escape with music. Despite his strict upbringing, the Mellencamp family home is always filled with music. His brother plays guitar, his father has a set of bongoes, and his mother chats with her friends about Elvis Presley. John’s first record purchase is ‘a vintage copy’ of Chubby Checker’s 1960 dance hit, ‘The Twist’.
John Mellencamp forms his first band when he is 14. Crepe Soul is ‘a racially mixed band…I was the lead singer and this black kid [17 year old Fred Booker] was [also] the lead singer.” As the band’s name implies, Crepe Soul play an amateurish brand of soul music for around a year, breaking up in 1966. “And that happened after a gig…in which a big ruckus erupted on the dance floor with a black – white knife fight between two guys in the crowd.”
Searching for direction, John Mellencamp works with bands like Snakepit Banana Barn and The Mason Brothers. John tries folk singing for a while towards the end of his time at Seymour High.
Part of the reason John Mellencamp gets into music is he believes it will help him pick up girls. He is described as ‘a sexually precocious young man.’ When he is 15 he meets Priscilla Esterline, who is already out of high school. By the time John is 17, Priscilla is pregnant with his child. The youngsters sneak across the State line to Kentucky (which has no age of consent limitation) and marry in 1970. Their daughter, Michelle, is born on 4 December 1970. This whole business results in a bitter quarrel with John’s parents and the two parties don’t speak to each other for a year.
Fortunately, John Mellencamp is on better terms with his grandparents, Harry and Laura Mellencamp. Harry is known as ‘Speck’ (as in speckled) because his skin has a lot of freckles. He formed the Harry P. Mellencamp Building & Construction Company for which his son Richard (John’s Dad) worked, until he struck out on his own. John is close to his grandparents because “They were the only support system I had,” he says. “And this was not only for getting into the music business, but for everything I did in my life, whether it was eloping or any sudden moves. I love my parents but when I was growing up, hell, I was totally at odds with them, and my grandparents were the go-betweens, helping explain who I was whenever possible.” Speck’s wisdom is a constant touchstone for John. It includes such gems as “If you’re gonna hit a c***sucker, kill him,” which John rather generously interprets as if you’re gonna do something, don’t just talk about it, do it.
John Mellencamp attends Vincennes University until 1975 where he majors in broadcasting. The young father is a rather diffident student, but he is a newsreader on college radio.
Inspired by David Bowie’s glam rock style, John Mellencamp dyes his hair green and blue and fronts a combo called Trash. The group includes guitarist Larry Crane. At this time, he pens ‘Loser’, his first original song. His parents remain unimpressed. “I had long hair; they didn’t like me to have long hair,” he explains. “I was playing rock ‘n’ roll; they didn’t like me playing rock ‘n’ roll. I was getting into songwriting; they thought I was wasting my time.”
Without any better prospects, John Mellencamp starts installing telephones for the telecommunications company Indiana Bell. When he tries to become a lineman, scaling the telephone poles, he accidentally disconnects all of Freetown, Indiana. This gets him fired.
Aged 24, John Mellencamp, with more confidence than common sense, makes a four song demo tape and heads to New York in search of a recording contract. This begins an eighteen-month period of shuttling back and forth from Indiana to New York on a quest for the elusive deal. Mellencamp finally attains his goal with the aid of Tony De Fries, the ex-manager of Brit rock star David Bowie, whose glam rock Mellencamp aped a few years past. Unfortunately, De Fries is really just looking for a property he can exploit and Mellencamp is too young and gullible to perceive this.
An album is recorded called ‘Chestnut Street Incident’ (1976). This is ‘released as a demo and consists mainly of cover versions.’ Manager Tony De Fries is credited as producer. The album has a big surprise associated with it for John Mellencamp. When he goes into De Fries’ office and sees the cover art, Mellencamp finds he has been renamed Johnny Cougar. De Fries had toyed with the names Johnny Puma and Johnny Indiana, but settled on Johnny Cougar. Mr Mellencamp registers a protest, but is bluntly told that no one will buy a record by someone with a name like John Mellencamp, so it is either Johnny Cougar or it is not going to be released. Grudgingly, Johnny Cougar (nee John Mellencamp) relents.
In October 1976, the same month as the album’s release, Tony De Fries arranges for Donald H. Ernest, the Mayor of Seymour, Indiana, to have an official ‘Johnny Cougar Day’, complete with street parade and concert. It’s a questionable publicity stunt and wins over virtually no one. “The ‘Chestnut Street’ album was a total flop,” gripes ‘Johnny Cougar’. “Every bit as bad as the jungle-animal last name De Fries snuck onto the album jackets and stuck me with.”
A split with Tony De Fries quickly follows. “He left me with ‘The Kid Inside’, a record never intended to be released, and left MCA [Records] holding the bag with a million dollar mess.” Johnny Cougar’s second album, ‘The Kid Inside’ (1977) is self-produced. The material on it is also written by the artist himself. On this disc, he works with a band called The Zone. The nucleus of this outfit, over time, becomes John’s regular backing group.
The whole sorry saga sours John Mellencamp towards the recording industry for the rest of his career. “Nobody has put themselves behind the eight-ball more than I did,” he says, disbelievingly.
Billy Gaff, at the time the manager of U.K. singer Rod Stewart, signs Johnny Cougar to a new recording deal. His first album on the Riva Records label is ‘A Biography’ (1978) (AUS no. 19), recorded in London, England, with producer John Punter. This disc features ‘I Need A Lover’ (AUS no. 5). This is an underrated pop gem, despite its demeaning attitude to women: “I need a lover that won’t drive me crazy / Some girl who’ll thrill me and then go away.”
The same song is recorded again for the artist’s next album, ‘John Cougar’ (1979) (US no. 64, AUS no. 77). As may be noted from the disc’s title, ‘Johnny Cougar’ has matured into ‘John Cougar’, a first step towards reclaiming his own identity. This album’s highlight is ‘Miami’ (AUS no. 31), an oddity due to its light, synthesiser-pop orientation. John Cougar co-produces this album with Howard Albert, but more important to the future is the engineer (a role akin to the producer’s assistant), Don Gehman.
John Cougar’s next effort, ‘Nothin’ Matters And What If It Did’ (1980) (US no. 37), is produced by Steve Cropper. Back in the mid-1960s when John Mellencamp was singing with the racially-integrated Crepe Soul, (white) Steve Cropper was playing guitar in Booker T. And The MGs, a much more famous racially-integrated unit. ‘Ain’t Even Done With The Night’ (US no. 17) has a timeless sound, as though it could have been recorded twenty years earlier. This impression is reinforced by lines in the lyrics like: “You’ve got your hands in my back pockets / And Sam Cooke singin’ on the radio.” Sam Cooke was a popular African-American pop and rhythm and blues singer in the late 1950s-early 1960s. John Cougar claims this song “shows the first trace of me learning my craft as a songwriter.”
After an uneasy beginning, John Cougar is gradually getting his act together.
John Mellencamp’s marriage to his first wife, Priscilla Esterline, ends in divorce by mutual consent in 1981. On 23 May 1981 he marries his second wife, Victoria Granucci. John and Vicki go on to have two daughters: Teddy Jo (born 1 July 1981) and Justice (born 1985).
John Mellencamp takes a while to find his own musical style. Even then, it is not a static thing; it is subject to shifts and alterations. If an umbrella title is needed for his music, it could be termed heartland rock. ‘The heartland’ is the states of the U.S.A. that don’t touch the ocean. Naturally, this includes Mellencamp’s native Indiana, but the definition also extends to places like Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio. These States are sometimes known as ‘the red States’ to acknowledge their affiliation to the Republican Party (usually shown in red on political maps), the right-wing, conservative side of American politics. These Middle American regions are also sometimes labelled ‘the Bible belt’ because of their Christian dominance. It’s the home of rusted-on, old-fashioned, plain-spoken folks. Although this becomes the core of John Mellencamp’s audience, paradoxically his personal values are often at odds with these people. He claims not to write to his base, “I’ve always written to the other side…My goal is to talk to conservatives, [to show them] this is another way of thinking.”
John Mellencamp is often classed with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bob Seger, other American rock acts with a primarily blue-collar following of working men. “I am for the common man,” Mellencamp affirms. “I am not sure the common man even realises how bad he has been treated, trampled on.” These are the sort of sentiments most closely identified with Bruce Springsteen. “Me, Petty, Seger, a whole bunch of us who are American singer-songwriters,” begins Mellencamp, “We’re all the same age. We all listened to the same music. What do people expect?”
If there is a characteristic that distinguishes John Mellencamp from his peers, it is his image as the champion of not just working men, but rural working men. His legend almost depicts him as coming in from the fields, kicking the mud off his boots and picking up a guitar. This is a distortion. John Mellencamp was not a farmer. He is not a son of the soil. His father, Harry, worked for Robbins Electric. His Grandfather, Speck, had his own construction company. Speck did work as a farmhand for a while, but it is John Mellencamp’s great-grandfather, John Henry Mellencamp (a name anglicised from Johann Herman Mollenkamp, indicating his German ancestry) who lived on a farmstead. That’s a fair way back in history. This is not to suggest that John Mellencamp is ignorant of the concerns of farmers. Doubtlessly, he has friends and acquaintances working the land and John’s sister, Laura, marries a pig farmer.
John Mellencamp writes nearly all his own songs. Additionally, he acts as producer or co-producer on many of his recordings. His voice is deep and masculine, ranging from a hoarse whisper to a barked shout. His music is aided greatly by maintaining a fairly steady group of backing musicians that appear with him both in concert and in the recording studio. The usual cast is: John Mellencamp (vocals, occasional guitar), Larry Crane (guitar), Mike Wanchic (guitar), John Cascella (keyboards), Toby Myers (bass) and Kenny Aronoff (drums). They are all quite capable, but drummer Kenny Aronoff is outstanding. The dry, authoritative crack of his snare drum powers the band’s arrangements and earns him plaudits from the wider rock industry. Mellencamp drills his crew hard, having them practice on 1960s hits he grew up with, often songs by artists who were one-hit wonders or just not exactly the titans of the time. At first, the group thinks it’s only busy-work to keep them occupied. It soon becomes clear that their boss wants them to absorb that feel so it will seep into his own original compositions.
The first album where the pieces really come together is John Cougar’s ‘American Fool’ (1982) (US no. 1, UK no. 37, AUS no. 18) on Mercury Records. This set is co-produced by John Mellencamp and Don Gehman (the engineer from ‘John Cougar’ (1979)). This is easily the hardest rocking album in the catalogue. Much of the material features grinding guitar riffs reminiscent of The Rolling Stones. The first single, ‘Hurts So Good’ (US no. 2, AUS no. 5), is co-written by Mellencamp’s sometime collaborator George M. Green. “I literally dreamt up that song in the shower,” John Cougar relates. He rings Green and tells him “Hey, I just thought up a great chorus that goes ‘Sometimes love don’t feel like it should / You make it hurt so good’. In the time it took to dry off, we’d written the verses together and finished it.” With its growling swagger, ‘Hurts So Good’ is impressive stuff. However, it is the follow-up, ‘Jack And Diane’ (US no. 1, UK no. 25, AUS no. 7), that changes many listeners’ opinions of John Cougar. Here is a song of thought and depth, even though he begins with the (uncharacteristically) modest words, “A little ditty / ‘Bout Jack and Diane / Two American kids growin’ up / In the heartland.” The song contrasts acoustic pulses and electric guitar riffs, lending light and shade to the tale. The aching central observation is “Oh yeah, life goes on / Long after the thrill of living is gone.” Beyond these singles, ‘Hand To Hold On To’ (US no. 19, UK no. 89, AUS no. 97) is a little slower and gentler while maintaining a robust spirit. At the other end of the scale, ‘Can You Take It’ showcases a boiling harmonica and the bruising ‘Close Enough’ has a fantastic drum-break from Kenny Aronoff with additional percussion that sounds like two lengths of pipe being knocked together.
Even when things are looking up, John Cougar is still a volatile character. At a 1982 Canadian concert in London, Ontario to promote ‘American Fool’, the singer has a tantrum on stage and throws Kenny Aronoff’s drum kit into the audience.
The success of ‘American Fool’ allows the boy from Seymour, Indiana, to reclaim some self-esteem and his name (sort of). ‘Uh Huh’ (1983) (US no. 9, UK no. 92, AUS no. 57), released in November, is credited to John Cougar Mellencamp. The production job is the work of Don Gehman and Little B*****d (i.e. John Mellencamp using a self-flagellating pseudonym). This set holds his best single, ‘Crumblin’ Down’ (US no. 9, AUS no. 42). This track has a great groove and whiplash timing. Mellencamp’s vocal oozes bratty arrogance: “Some people say I’m obnoxious and lazy / I’m uneducated, my opinion means nuts / But I know I’m a real good dancer / Don’t need to look over my shoulder to see where I’m at.” The anthemic ‘Pink Houses’ (US no. 8, AUS no. 69) manages to sound simultaneously patriotic and disillusioned: “Ain’t that America / Home of the free / Little pink houses / For you and me.” The roughhouse ‘Authority Song’ (US no. 15, AUS no. 93) almost distils Mellencamp’s persona: “When I fight authority / Authority always wins / I’ve been doing it since I was a young kid / And I come up grinning.” A rubbery guitar figure gooses the track along at a propulsive pace and this observation caps it off: “Growin’ up leads to growin’ old and then to dying / Ooh and dyin’ to me don’t sound like all that much fun.”
Though John Mellencamp has his tongue in his cheek with that last lyric, it has an all-too painful echo in real life soon after. John’s beloved grandfather, Speck Mellencamp, dies of lung cancer on 28 December 1983.
John Cougar Mellencamp’s next album, ‘Scarecrow’ (1985) (US no. 2, AUS no. 2), is dedicated to his grandfather. This disc, his finest, is again co-produced by Don Gehman and Little B*****d. The title track, ‘Rain On The Scarecrow’ (US no. 21, AUS no. 34), is Mellencamp’s most overt statement about farming and it shapes the tone of the album. Co-written by George M. Green, it’s a song about the repossession of farms from destitute men of the soil. It’s dramatic and sounds like the approach of Judgment Day. “When you take a man’s dignity he can’t work his fields and cows / There’ll be blood on the scarecrow, blood on the plough,” scowls Mellencamp. Elsewhere, ‘Lonely Ol’ Night’ (US no. 6, AUS no. 32) is typical of the melange of rock, pop and folk that now makes up John Cougar Mellencamp’s sound. “Two lonely people” discover “It’s a lonely ol’ night / But ain’t they all?” The lyrics also refer to “Some singer’s sad, sad song / He’s singing about standing in the shadows of love.” That’s a nod to the 1966 hit by African-American vocal group The Four Tops, ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Love’. Speaking of Mellencamp’s 1960s influences, they are gloriously celebrated in ‘R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.’ (US no. 2, UK no. 67, AUS no. 18). This cites Frankie Lyman (black), Bobby Fuller (white), Mitch Ryder (white), Jackie Wilson (black), Shangri-Las (white girl group), Young Rascals (white), Martha Reeves (of black girl group Martha And The Vandellas) and James Brown (black). All this is enunciated amidst a headlong plunge into a guitar maelstrom. ‘Small Town’ (US no. 6, UK no. 53, AUS no. 80) provides more of the Mellencamp manifesto: “Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town / And people let me be just what I want to be.” On this track, a tambourine shakes like a rattlesnake and a harmonica gives a plaintive wail. ‘Justice And Independence ‘85’ are the unlikely names of young lovers and the source for the name of Mellencamp’s own daughter’s name (Justice, who is born in the same year). ‘Face Of The Nation’ is one of John Cougar Mellencamp’s most openly political statements. ‘Rumbleseat’ (US no. 28, AUS no. 84) is a theme song for an underdog, and ‘Kind Of Fella I Am’ is a self-deprecating shot at jealousy. The overall theme is summed up in ‘You’ve Got To Stand For Somethin’’: “But the Midwest is my home.”
John Cougar Mellencamp tries to live up to his words by joining country star Willie Nelson and rock star Neil Young in organising Farm Aid, a charity to benefit American farmers.
Just as Speck Mellencamp’s passing influences ‘Scarecrow’, so it is said that the death from cancer of the singer’s uncle, Joe Mellencamp, looms over ‘The Lonesome Jubilee’ (1987) (US no. 6, UK no. 31, AUS no. 2). This disc continues the production partnership of Gehman and Mellencamp (who has abandoned the ‘Little B*****d’ alias). The instrumental colouring of this album is less rock and more rustic folk. Lisa Germano’s violin challenges John Cougar Mellencamp’s vocal at every turn of ‘Paper In Fire’ (US no. 9, UK no. 86, AUS no. 13). This song “was written based on various passages in the Bible, most of them from Ecclesiastes,” advises the author: “There is a good life / Right across this green field / And each generation / Stares at it from afar.” John Cascella plays accordion on ‘Cherry Bomb’ (US no. 8, AUS no. 20), a track that jumps in the time machine back to the 1960s again. Amazingly, this song takes elements like the accordion, violin, and girly backing vocals that would have been anathema to the singer at the time of ‘American Fool’ and makes them work. “We were going nuts, girl, out in the sticks,” sings Mellencamp, the champion of small towns. Yet his own combustible nature is also acknowledged: “One night me with my big mouth / A couple of guys had to put me in my place.” ‘Check It Out’ (US no. 14, UK no. 96, AUS no. 22) tries to lend grace to the humdrum pattern of everyday life and ‘Rooty Toot Toot’ (US no. 61, AUS no. 54) is just plain good fun.
John Mellencamp’s marriage to Vicki Granucci ends in divorce in 1989.
The self-produced ‘Big Daddy’ (1989) (US no. 7, UK no. 25, AUS no. 1) finds John Cougar Mellencamp in a reflective mood. ‘Pop Singer’ (US no. 15, UK no. 93, AUS no. 8) betrays dissatisfaction with the shallow nature of fame. ‘Jackie Brown’ (US no. 48, AUS no. 47) shows sympathy for the impoverished. In a later interview, Mellencamp notes that, in America “you’re really rich or you’re really down and out.” ‘Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)’ (AUS no. 87) is also present on this set. Yet, ‘while the album receives generally good reviews’, ‘it fails to produce a big single.’
‘Whenever We Wanted’ (1991) (US no. 17, UK no. 39, AUS no. 3) displays ‘brash exuberance’, especially on the single, ‘Get A Leg Up’ (US no. 14, AUS no. 21). The video for this song (and the cover of the album) features a model named Elaine Irwin. The encounter sparks a romance between her and John Mellencamp. For this album, John reverts to this real name at last, jettisoning the ‘Cougar’ tag all together.
John Mellencamp weds Elaine Irwin on 5 September 1992. The marriage produces two sons: Hud (born 1994) and Speck (born 1995). Hud is named after a character played by Paul Newman in the movie ‘Hud’ (1963), a Mellencamp favourite about a fractious trouble-maker’s disputes with his family and the world in general. Speck, of course, is named for John’s grandfather.
‘Human Wheels’ (1993) (US no. 7, UK no. 37, AUS no. 7), ‘Dance Naked’ (1994) (US no. 13, AUS no. 6) and ‘Mr Happy Go-Lucky’ (1996) (US no. 9, AUS no. 11) are released in this period. ‘Dance Naked’ has a cover version of ‘Wild Night’ (US no. 3, UK no. 34, AUS no. 18), the song by Irish rock legend Van Morrison, recast as a duet between John Mellencamp and Me’Shell NdegeOcello. ‘Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)’ (US no. 14, UK no. 92, AUS no. 21) from ‘Mr Happy Go-Lucky’ attracts some attention too. This is also Mellencamp’s last album for Mercury Records.
The self-titled ‘John Mellencamp’ (1998) (US no. 41, AUS no. 41) opens the account at Columbia Records. Mercury issues ‘Rough Harvest’ (1999) (US no. 99), ‘a collection of unreleased material’ consisting of cover versions and alternate acoustic renditions of some of Mellencamp’s past work. John Mellencamp releases two more albums on Columbia, ‘Cuttin’ Heads’ (2001) (US no. 15) and ‘Trouble No More’ (2003) (US no. 31), before he and the label part ways.
‘Freedom’s Road’ (2007) (US no. 5) takes him to Universal Republic. By now, frustration with his situation is beginning to show. “I think it’s ridiculous to try to sell records to teenagers,” John Mellencamp grumbles, “because teenagers don’t buy my records. And there ain’t that many teenagers out there in the marketplace.” His solution is to begin working with celebrated roots music producer T-Bone Burnett and reinvent himself as a folk music artist, pretty much shorn of any rock trappings. ‘Life, Death, Love And Freedom’ (2008) (US no. 7, AUS no. 21) is the first such release. For his next album, John Mellencamp even ditches stereo recording, opting for basic mono instead. “I decided to go as far away from popular music as I could,” he explains, saying he just wants to hear “musicians actually playing music” instead of studio frippery. The result is ‘No Better Than This’ (2010) (US no. 10) in August.
On 30 December 2010 John Mellencamp separates from Elaine Irwin. In 2013 he is said to be romantically involved with Hollywood actress Meg Ryan.
John Mellencamp continues his recording career with ‘Plain Spoken’ (2014) (US no. 18, UK no. 169).
From September 2015 to August 2016 John Mellencamp and former supermodel Christie Brinkley are a couple.
John Mellencamp’s career got off to a shaky start but really hit its peak in the 1980s. After that, though his work may not have been any poorer in quality, the stars seemed out of alignment for him. He certainly maintained the effort but it seemed only his most devoted followers were still listening. Still, the man did not need not to feel he had failed. His achievements in the 1980s were considerable and his creation of a voice for the heartland of the U.S.A. was admirable. John Mellencamp’s music ‘had wide appeal for rock and pop audiences, combining melodic sense, macho-boyish image, a modicum of intelligence and evocative, quintessentially American lyrics.’ ‘Mellencamp had the desire to be a serious social commentator, chronicling the times and trials of Midwestern baby boomers [those born from, roughly, 1945 to 1960].’
- ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, John Mellencamp interview conducted by David Fricke (30 January 1986) (reproduced on rollingstone.com)
- ‘The Best That I Could Do: 1978 -1988’ – Sleeve notes by Timothy White (Mercury Records, 1997) p. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
- ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 344
- 1matters.org, John Mellencamp video interview conducted by Ken Leslie (17 September 2010)
- bio.com – Biography – John Mellencamp – video presentation (2008)
- Notable names database – nndb.com – as at 28 June 2013
- allmusic.com, ‘John Mellencamp’ by Stephen Thomas Erlewine as at 23 August 2001
- wikipedia.org as at 20 May 2013, 1 January 2015, 4 January 2017
- ‘The Virgin Encyclopedia Of Eighties Music’ – Edited by Colin Larkin (Virgin Books, 1997) p. 318
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 50
- The Plain Truth – Video interview with John Mellencamp conducted by Dan Rather (17 January 2009)
- lyricsfreak.com as at 29 June 2013
- ‘Scarecrow’ – Back cover notes (Riva Records / Mercury Records, 1985)
- brainyquote.com as at 29 June 2013
Song lyrics copyright Riva Records (1979 – 1983), John Mellencamp (1986 – 1988)
Last revised 12 January 2017