John Mellencamp- The Lonesome Jubilee 35th anniversary

Highly-acclaimed and influential rarely go hand-in-hand with mainstream popularity. The ultimate example is the incomparable Bob Dylan, who recorded fifteen original albums before he got a single platinum seller (Blood on the Tracks). But when a unique sound, like the fiddle and accordion arrangements paired with a crackling backbeat, met the songs of John Mellencamp on his August 1987 release The Lonesome Jubilee, such as “Paper in Fire”,”Check It Out”,”The Real Life”, and “Cherry Bomb”, the rock, pop, and country music worlds were changed indelibly while cash registers rang up #6 sales on the Billboard album chart.

Personally I could  relate to John Mellencamp, and not just because our people came from rural farming folk in Central Indiana. We were both late bloomers. After all, it wasn’t until John Mellencamp’s seventh album, Uh Huh, that he wrote “Pink Houses”, not just a popular song but an important one. With “Pink Houses” Mellencamp became as keen as Springsteen, Seger, and Petty as chroniclers of late twentieth century American life, and with John’s eighth album Scarecrow he filled an entire record with songs of similar substance. He had already influenced the sound of Pop music earlier in the Eighties by moving drummer Kenny Aronoff up front in the mix on the #1 hit “Jack and Diane” and “Hurt So Good”, and with his ninth album The Lonesome Jubilee in August 1987 , John Mellencamp not only influenced Pop and Rock but infiltrated the citadel sound of Nashville as well by arranging these songs with accordion, dobro, and fiddle over a basic rock rhythm section. Almost instantly, acts as diverse as Paul Simon and The Talking Heads took notice. John Mellencamp is my guest In the Studio  with one of the most important albums of the Eighties, dedicated this edition to John Cascella, whose accordion on The Lonsome Jubilee and Big Daddy albums influenced countless musicians and producers by re-introducing the charm and romance of that sound back into Pop and Country. John Cascella died suddenly in 1993.  –Redbeard