Small Town Life

Like this, Farmer John?

The world is full of pathetic music that everyone but me thinks is the greatest thing to come around the bend since burnt Cheez Its.  That’s why I’m dedicating Wednesdays to expose these false idols for the fool’s gold they really are.  And The Nest is doing it in style with the Top 30 Iconic Songs I Just Can’t Stand countdown!  DJ Scratchy and her Sponkies have already helped me ruffle more than a few feathers with the first couple entries in this series, while also unearthing a secret army of folks who actually share my dislike of cherished classics!  Let’s see which way the wind blows this week as we finally tear apart a song from my favorite decade of all time….

#28. “Jack and Diane” – John Cougar

Millennials would drop their smartphones in disbelief if I told them that just three decades ago, one of the most prolific hitmakers of the 80’s was a country hick from Seymour, Indiana who didn’t try in the least to mold himself into a perky looking pop singer.  John Cougar Mellencamp had us all dancing around our 50 pound boomboxes in the dying days of the Cold War with an oldies rock sound that was straight out of the haunted cornfields of the Midwest.  That abomination of a moniker was a product of the fact that John’s first record producer thought nobody wanted to buy an album from some guy named Mellencamp back in the 70’s when everyone was going gaga for simpler, flashier names like Engelbert Humperdinck…

And so the legend of Johnny Cougar was born.

In a series of moves that would put even the Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Just Plain Starship wheel of name changes to shame… the artist formerly known as Johnny Cougar would eventually record under four different, but similar identities before finally dropping the Cougar nonsense from his name altogether in the 90’s.  For much of the 80’s, we knew FM radio’s most famous Hoosier as John Cougar Mellencamp.  And it was under that iteration that The Coug released an almost neverending string of kickass songs that can still rock out an iPod today.  Uh Huh, Scarecrow and The Lonesome Jubilee are three of the best back to back to back hit-packed albums any artist has ever released under any made up name!

I’ll smoke to that!

But before Mellencamp became….. well, Mellencamp, he was still posing as John Cougar.  John Cougar did “Hurts So Good,” which is an awesome song.  But John Cougar also released this squishy cow pie of a ballad in 1982 that managed to become his first #1 and breakthrough hit… and radio has never stopped playing it 35 years later.

For someone as successful as John(ny) (Cougar) Mellencamp has been at creating hit singles, it’s hard to pick out just one that serves as that artist’s signature song.  But for Mellencamp, it’s probably this droning piece of schlock about two teenage lovers getting it on behind the shade tree.  What’s funny is that even John realized the song was a piece of shit, and only released it after the idea was sprung to him by guitarist Mick Ronson to make the part in the middle sound a bit more interesting than something that sounded like a folk singer in a coffee shop begging for change.  That middle, to me, is the only salvageable part of this four minute trip through the back roads of Hell… but of course, it’s only the “In The Air Tonight” style drum break that appeals to me.

Not John Cougar Mellencamp’s drummer. But he should have been…

Come back next Wednesday as I reveal the next horrifically overhyped song in my countdown that will make you realize that the thrill of living is gone…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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33 Responses to Small Town Life

  1. I remember this song… no one could dance to this, so they all clapped their hands as a bunch of tourists in an airplane after the landing…;o((((

    • The Wiki article on the song says the hand claps were supposed to be removed from the final version, and were only done to help keep the tempo of the song since it didn’t have much of a beat. Then they realized how much more awful this song sounded without the clapping…. so they stayed in, and that’s really about all you can do with this song… besides covering your ears.

  2. draliman says:

    Not awful. But not very good either.

    • I might judge this song more harshly because of how much I like the rest of Mellencamp’s work. I remember when I used a song of his in the DVA, you said Mellencamp was never big in the UK. Since he was huge over here, I guess that makes him the US’s version of Madness!

      • draliman says:

        Except Madness is waaay better 🙂
        I have heard the name “John Mellencamp” before (outside of your blog) but not “John Cougar”. And I didn’t know he was a singer.

  3. I used to turn the radio off, if this song came on. I loathe it.

  4. I never liked this Melonhead song. I hated the video, too. MTV played it non-stop. My favorite song of his was an early one – Ain’t Even Done with the Night.

  5. I didn’t know about all the name changes … but you got me in my missing decade again. This stuff just didn’t MAKE it to Israeli pop channels. We had a ton of weird Euro pop, which was well and truly ignorable except for a couple of Aussie groups (name forgotten, sorry) and oldies, which were (probably still are) wildly popular. Mellencamp would have been a pretty funny name had it shown up, though.

    • I’ll bet I’d have liked a lot of that Euro pop given how many British bands that never made it in America I discovered and liked. I’ll keep the Mellencamp, though, since other than this song, almost everything else he did in the 80’s was gold…

  6. You nailed it! I despise this overplayed, over-blechy song. I’d take 5 minutes of insipid commercials over the playing of this tune.

  7. Trisha says:

    It’s always annoyed me that Jack and Diane is the JM song that gets picked for radio play. He has so many good, rockin’ songs to pick from. Hurts So Good is my probably my favorite but I’m sure there are others that got buried under the tedious repetition of Jack and Diane. I always thought I was alone in not loving Jack and Diane!

    • You are not only not alone, but not a soul has come forward so far to defend Jack and Diane! There’s still time for people to disagree with me, but this is the most unanimously disliked song in the countdown so far!

  8. Ally Bean says:

    Sadly the lyrics from that song are permanently embedded in my brain. Plus the tune. Not a fan of it, then or now.

  9. franhunne4u says:

    Here I am, the white knightess to defend this song! It’s lovely sarcastic – how can’t you like a line like “Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone”
    Or the lash-out to the “heartland”:
    “Let the Bible Belt come down
    And Save My soul”

    No, really, unless you are defender of Bible Belt America (and from all of Mitzi’s Escapades I did not get this impression of you) you should love this song …

  10. agree on this one; he had a lot of great songs and this one didn’t really get two thumbs up around here….!! ☺♥

  11. I won’t be another “voice of disagreement” – I’m with the majority here – Jack and Diane was hideous and I actually tuned in the radio traffic reports if I was in the car when J&D came on. When one sacrifices music for traffic reports, you just KNOW the song stinks (at least in my car it does/did!).


    • I thought of this comment the evening I posted this, when the radio station played another song I have much higher up in this countdown…. and lo and behold, the very next song they played was THIS!!! I’d have gladly taken a traffic report or even static for the next four minutes!

  12. Piglove says:

    OMP – We all know this song here at the Hotel Thompson and we all could give two toots about it. LOL – Not one of the better songs at all. The clapping… rolls piggy eyes. Move on – NEXT. Snorts with piggy laughter. XOXO – Bacon

  13. Merbear74 says:

    I loathe this song.

  14. Flash back time. I used to date a guy named Jack who said this song was written about him. Then he’d whip out a PHOTO of a really plain looking girl and say that was Diane. Jack was a lot of fun…for a while.

    But seriously, this was one more excellent choice for “Iconic Songs I Just Can’t Stand.”

  15. Ladybuggz says:

    I like this song!!! I’d stick my tongue out at you if I could! lol…

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