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Review: “Strictly A One-Eyed Jack” by John Mellencamp (2022)

by Johnny Cole

John Mellencamp’s highly anticipated studio album Strictly A One-Eyed Jack finally arrived in January of this year containing the new single “Did You Say Such A Thing”. While this newest release is his 25th studio album, Mellencamp has also had several more records released when you count his greatest hits, live and acoustic packages. This album is his first studio release since 2018’s Other People’s Stuff, an outstanding collection of covers.

Without debate, Mellencamp continues to be one of the music industry’s most enduring artists. Through the years, he has received notable praise from others, including music legend, Johnny Cash, who said, “Mellencamp is one of our greatest living songwriters” and Nora Guthrie, daughter of American folk musician and singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie, said, “John Mellencamp not only has a mind, but better yet, he’s got a mind of his own.” Strictly A One-Eyed Jack, written and produced by Mellencamp at his own Belmont Mall Studios in Bloomington, Indiana, is the next chapter in this music artist’s ongoing evolution from young 70’s and 80’s rocker to one of the architects of modern day Americana.

In late 2021, we had a sample of things to come with the release of “Wasted Days”, a much talked about collaboration with Bruce Springsteen, which The Southland Music Line spotlighted this past autumn (Click Here for Review). Billboard spoke favorably of the single by commenting: “Two of the nation’s most beloved chroniclers…sounds like a pair of old friends sitting around a fire.” Springsteen also joins Mellencamp on three tracks (“Wasted Days”, “Did You Say Such a Thing” and “A Life Full of Rain”) on Strictly A One-Eyed Jack. While enjoying these two music icons perform together at Sting and Trudie Styler’s 30th annual Rainforest Benefit in 2019, I wondered if they would one day team up in the studio – well, thankfully they did.

The Associated Press, in their review of Strictly A One-Eyed Jack, says: “Mellencamp’s gravelly voice and rootsy rock are all over the 12-track collection; the sound of an artist looking back with some regret and at the present with a critical eye.” Mellencamp has never been an artist who compromises or settles on the easiest route and his loyal fans continue the journey alongside one of the Hoosier state’s greatest exports.

Strictly a One-Eyed Jack is currently available on CD and as digital, with Amazon also accepting orders for a vinyl release slated for May 20, 2022.

Some Final Comments (originally written in late 2021):

The first time I had the privilege of seeing Mellencamp perform live in concert was in 1982 when he was opening for the rock band Heart. As one of Heartland rock’s premiere superstars, Mellencamp has given us several decades of incredible music. Prior to settling on his real name, John Mellencamp (born October 7, 1951 in Seymour, Indiana) performed under the names Johnny Cougar, John Cougar & The Zone, John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp. Finally, with the release of 1985’s Scarecrow, he would chose to simply be known by his given name. A founding member of Farm Aid and an inductee into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, Mellencamp has released such classics as “Hurt So Good”, “Jack & Diane”, “Pink Houses” and “Smalltown”.

Here is my list of 100 favorite songs recorded by John Mellencamp (1976 to the 2021):

● 1. “Jack & Diane” (from American Fool, 1982)
● 2. “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” (from Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did, 1980)
● 3. “I Need A Lover” (from A Biography, 1978 & John Cougar, 1979)
● 4. “Hurts So Good” (from American Fool, 1982)
● 5. “Pink Houses” (from Uh-Huh, 1983)
● 6. “Small Town” (from Scarecrow, 1985)
● 7. “This Time” (from Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did, 1980)
● 8. “Lonely Ol’ Night” (from Scarecrow, 1985)
● 9. “Human Wheels” (from Human Wheels, 1993)
● 10. “Crumblin’ Down” (from Uh-Huh, 1983)
● 11. “Paper in Fire” (from The Lonesome Jubilee, 1987)
● 12. “Hand to Hold on To” (from American Fool, 1982)
● 13. “Authority Song” (from Uh-Huh, 1983)
● 14. “Check It Out” (from The Lonesome Jubilee, 1987)
● 15. “Rain On The Scarecrow” (from Scarecrow, 1985)
● 16. “Cherry Bomb” (from The Lonesome Jubilee, 1987)
● 17. “Pop Singer” (from Big Daddy, 1989)
● 18. “Rumbleseat” (from Scarecrow, 1985)
● 19. “Jackie Brown” (from Big Daddy, 1989)
● 20. “What If I Came Knocking” (from Human Wheels, 1993)
● 21. “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” (from Scarecrow, 1985)
● 22. “When Jesus Left Birmingham” (from Human Wheels, 1993)
● 23. “Wasted Days” (with Bruce Springsteen)(from Strictly a One-Eyed Jack, 2022)
● 24. “Get a Leg Up” (from Whenever We Wanted, 1991)
● 25. “Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)”(from Big Daddy, 1989)
● 26. “Love and Happiness” (from Whenever We Wanted, 1991)
● 27. “Sweet Suzanne” (by Buzzin’ Cousins featuring John Mellencamp, John Prine, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely & James McMurtry)(from Falling From Grace soundtrack, 1992)
● 28. “A Ride Back Home” (featuring Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild)(from Life, Death, Love and Freedom, 2008)
● 29. “Pink Houses (Live)” (from The Unplugged Collection, Volume One, 1994)
● 30. “Peaceful World” (from Cuttin’ Heads, 2001)
● 31. “Dance Naked” (from Dance Naked, 1994)
● 32. “Wild Night” (with Me’shell Ndegeocello)(from Dance Naked, 1994)
● 33. “Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)” (from Mr. Happy Go Lucky, 1996)
● 34. “I’m Not Running Anymore” (from John Mellencamp, 1998)
● 35. “Troubled Man” (from Plain Spoken, 2015)
● 36. “Dark as a Dungeon” (from the 2017 National Geographic Channel documentary From the Ashes)
● 37. “Mobile Blue” (from Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, 2017)
● 38. “Wreck of the Old 97” (from The Rose and The Briar, 2004 & Other People’s Stuff, 2018)
● 39. “Thundering Hearts” (from American Fool, 1982)
● 40. “Play Guitar” (from Uh-Huh, 1983)
● 41. “What Say You” (a duet with Travis Tritt from his 2004 album My Honky Tonk History)
● 42. “Indigo Sunset” (featuring Carlene Carter) (from Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, 2017)
● 43. “Minutes to Memories” (from Scarecrow, 1985)
● 44. “Grandview” (featuring Martina McBride) (from Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, 2017)
● 45. “Between a Laugh and a Tear” (with Rickie Lee Jones) (from Scarecrow, 1985)
● 46. ‘Ghost Towns Along the Highway” (from Freedom Road, 2007)
● 47. “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (from 1994’s Blue Chips soundtrack; a cover of the 1935 Big Joe Williams song)
● 48. “Yours Forever” (from The Perfect Storm soundtrack, 2000)
● 49. “My Soul’s Got Wings” (featuring Carlene Carter) (from Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, 2017)
● 50. “Chestnut Street” (from Chestnut Street Incident, 1976)
● 51. “Martha Say” (from Big Daddy, 1989)
● 52. “Rooty Toot Toot” (from The Lonesome Jubilee, 1987)
● 53. “Rave On” (from the Cocktail Soundtrack, 1988)
● 54. “Without Expression” (from The Best That I Could Do, 1997)
● 55. “Gambling Bar Room Blues (from The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers – A Tribute, 1997 and Other People’s Stuff, 2018)
● 56. “Factory” (from A Biography, 1978)
● 57. “Serious Business” (from Uh-Huh, 1983)
● 58. “Farewell Angelina” (from Rough Harvest, 1999; a cover of Bob Dylan’s song from the mid-60s.)
● 59. “Walk Tall” (with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds) (from Words & Music: John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits, 2004)
● 60. “Danger List” (from American Fool, 1982)
● 61. “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” (from An Interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s Songs, 2003 & Other People’s Stuff, 2018)
● 62. “My Sweet Love” (from Life, Death, Love and Freedom, 2008)
● 63. “Rural Route” (from Freedom’s Road, 2007)
● 64. “Your Life Is Now” (from John Mellencamp, 1998)
● 65. “Miami” (from John Cougar, 1979)
● 66. “Teardrops Will Fall” (from Trouble No More, 2003)
● 67. “Small Paradise” (from John Cougar, 1979)
● 68. “Our Country” (from Freedom Road, 2006)
● 69. “Sugar Marie” (from John Cougar, 1979)
● 70. “Good Girls” (from Chestnut Street Incident, 1976)
● 71. “Eyes on the Prize” (from Other People’s Stuff, 2018)
● 72. “Just Another Day” (from Mr. Happy Go Lucky, 1996)
● 73. “A Little Night Dancin'” (from John Cougar, 1979)
● 74. “Taxi Dancer” (from John Cougar, 1979)
● 75. “Now More Than Ever” (from Whenever We Wanted, 1991)
● 76. “Hot Night in a Cold Town” (from Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did, 1980)
● 77. “No Better Than This” (from No Better Than This, 2010)
● 78. “Again Tonight” (from Whenever We Wanted, 1991)
● 79. “Under The Boardwalk” (from Rough Harvest, 1999; this cover of the The Drifters’ 1964 hit single had previously been released in 1986)
● 80. “Jackie O” (from Uh-Huh, 1983)
● 81. “Thank You” (from Words & Music: John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits, 2004)
● 82. “Save Some Time To Dream” (from No Better Than This, 2010)
● 83. “In My Time of Dying” (from Rough Harvest, 1999)
● 84. “Junior” (from Human Wheels, 1993)
● 85. “Death Letter” (from Trouble No More, 2003; “Death Letter Blues” is the signature song of the Delta blues musician Son House)
● 86. “Hard Times for an Honest Man” (from The Lonesome Jubilee, 1987)
● 87. “Someday” (from Freedom Road, 2006)
● 88. “Justice and Independence ’85” (from Scarecrow, 1985)
● 89. “Troubled Land” (from Life, Death, Love and Freedom, 2008)
● 90. “If I Die Sudden” (from Life, Death, Love and Freedom, 2008)
● 91. “Stones in My Passway” (from Trouble No More, 2003; a Delta blues song written by blues musician Robert Johnson)
● 92. “This Land is Your Land” (from Song of America, 2007)
● 93. “The Real Life” (from The Lonesome Jubilee, 1987)
● 94 “Young Without Lovers” (from Life, Death, Love and Freedom, 2008)
● 95. “The Americans” (from Freedom Road, 2006)
● 96. “Last Chance” (from Whenever We Wanted, 1991)
● 97. “American Dream” (from Chestnut Street Incident, 1976)
● 98. “Dream Killing Town” (from Chestnut Street Incident, 1976)
● 99. “Easy Target” (from Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, 2017)
● 100. “To Washington” (from Trouble No More, 2003)

Page Designed & Edited by Johnny Cole

Additional Editing by Brenda Germany
© The Southland Music Line. 2022.
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