By the time John Mellencamp released October 1991’s Whenever We Wanted, containing the hits “Get a Leg Up” and “Again Tonight”, his record-making not only made him one of the Eighties’ most popular singer/ songwriters, he had already influenced the sound of his peers…twice.In 1982 John Mellencamp and producer Don Gehman broke through with a “drums upfront” approach on hits like “Hurts So Good” and “Jack and Diane”, which influenced greatly the sound of Pop and Rock for the remainder of the decade. Then with the addition of fiddle and accordion prominently carrying the lead melody lines, Mellencamp did it again with 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee on perennials “Paper in Fire” and “Check It Out”, and this time the evolving modern Nashville record makers were listening as well as Pop.
John Mellencamp’s farewell to the Reagan Eighties in 1989, Big Daddy was his male mid-life crisis exercise with “Pop Singer” and “Jackie Brown”. He then took an almost three year sabbatical, learning fine art painting and, surprisingly, directing and starring in a film with Mariel Hemingway and Kay Lenz, Falling from Grace. The hard-to-find soundtrack gem “Sweet Suzanne” is included here, a veritable Americana singer/songwriter summit meeting blending the voice of John Mellencamp with that of the late John Prine, Joe Ely, James McMurtry ( whose father Lonesome Dove legend Larry McMurtry wrote the screenplay for Falling from Grace), and batting cleanup, Dwight Yoakam.
In Fall 1991 John Mellencamp’s human wheels once again found the blacktop highway of his mainstream music career with a new wife, a new life, and a looser, lighter attitude on Whenever We Wanted, including “Get a Leg Up” and the imminently boot-scootin’ dance-abilly “Again Tonight”. In these classic rock interviews, John Mellencamp raises just as many questions as answers. –Redbeard