John Mellencamp-Lonesome Jubilee 25th anniversary


How do you follow up a brilliant blue collar rural manifesto like John Mellencamp‘s 1985 Scarecrow ? By taking the sound farther afield (pun intended) like Mellencamp did in Fall 1987 on the multi-million seller The Lonesome Jubilee . On New Years Eve 1985 I had been invited to John Mellencamp’s private family party in his Central Indiana hometown of Seymour, held in a tiny neighborhood bar like ten thousand others around the country. Maybe seventy-five lifelong school buddies, wives, kids, and relatives crammed into this one room joint, with the only light coming from a back kitchen visible through the little pass-through window where normally  food orders came up. No stage in the low-ceiling place, just the John Mellencamp band set up at one end of  the floor: Mike Wanchic and Larry Crain on guitars, Toby “Bear Creek” Myers on bass, and emerging as one of rock’s premiere drummers, Kenny Aronoff. The only thing noteworthy about the performance that New Year’s night was that John’s older brother started  out leading the band, and I don’t recall them playing a single John Mellencamp original the entire evening! John was coming off the biggest album of his career, the five million seller Scarecrow, his third platinum album in a row, so there was no indication that intimate New Years Eve that, with his next offering The Lonesome Jubilee  less than two years into the future,  Mellencamp would alter the sound with violin and accordion and alter not only that of his core band  but also influence rock, pop, and Americana which is still felt to this day. – Redbeard