View Full Version : John Mellencamp - Life Death Love and Freedom

Michael Jefferson
7.20.08, 5:26 PM
http://rcm-images.amazon.com/images/P/B0018Q7K4O.01.TZZZZZZZ.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0018Q7K4O/w3pgcoffeeroomss)John Mellencamp
Life Death Love and Freedom (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0018Q7K4O/w3pgcoffeeroomss)
3.5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike JeffersonWhere do farmers send their children during the summer? John Mellencamp. (Ouch). This summer you might want to send yourself to your nearest music connection and pick up John Mellencamp’s “Life Death, Love and Freedom,” a surprisingly taut mixture of folk, blues and roots rock. This ain’t your daddy’s John Cougar. John boy’s lyrics don’t harp on the boy-girl misgivings that populated his banal material in years past. Nearly every song is an insightful short story of the perils of adulthood; about roads not taken, growing old, facing loneliness or the country’s economic and social decay.

I have to admit Mellencamp is one of those guys I’ve been hearing for years but seldom actually listen to. I had a long fallow period of disinterest in his work that kept me from being an authority on his songs. I wasn’t much of a fan of his early adolescent mid-western incarnation as John Cougar. Whenever he sang “Ew, yeah, life goes on” in “Jack and Diane,” a “little ditty about two kids living in the heartland,” it made me wish a twister would come along and tear through the Bible belt like a corn dog in an old coot with diverticulitis. “I Need A Lover?” Drove me crazy... “Hurts So Good?”… No it didn’t, and “Rain On the Scarecrow”’s anvil-pounding cadence made me wish somebody had stuck Johnny boy in a field for the crows to pick at. Then there was Cougar’s conversion to adulthood (changing his name to John Cougar Mellencamp was the giveaway), and his dubious conversion to a Live-Aid touting folk rocker. But “The Authority Song” had bird-flipping attitude, and “Play Guitar” had spunk; and despite its country pea-picking influence, “Paper In Fire” lit up the airwaves. Johnny boy lurked in the country idiom a little too long for me, hanging his rep on too many fiddle based duds. When he tried to rock, the result was low wattage high school confidential material like “Cherry Bomb.”

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