LAMONT’S MUSIC NOTES-APRIL 12, 2020…IT WAS ON THIS DATE IN 1982 JOHN MELLENCAMP RELEASED AN ALBUM THAT WAS A CAREER CHANGER, ‘AMERICAN FOOL’. IT WAS HIS FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM, AND IT WAS RELEASED UNDER HIS STAGE NAME “JOHN COUGAR”. IT HELD THE NUMBER ONE SPOT ON BILLBOARD’S TOP ALBUM CHART FOR 9 WEEKS AND WAS THE BEST SELLING ALBUM OF 1982. ACCORDING TO THE RECORD’S PRODUCER DON GEHMAN, THE BAND WAS METICULOUS IN THE STUDIO WHEN THEY WERE MAKING ‘AMERICAN FOOL’ BUT THE RECORD COMPANY WASN’T HAPPY. THEY HAD DIFFERENT IDEAS ON WHAT JOHN COUGAR SHOULD SOUND LIKE: “We had a record company that was hoping we were making a Neil Diamond‑type album, and after we spent two or three months in the studio recording these songs and mixing them to the best of our ability, I can remember an A&R guy in a pink shirt coming in to listen to them and basically thinking we had nothing. At that point, they put a stop to the project. We had ‘Jack & Diane,’ we had ‘Hand to Hold on To,’ we had ‘Weakest Moments’ – we had some good songs – and while I don’t know the precise nature of the discussions that took place, Riva went from wanting to get a new producer to not even wanting John on the label anymore. Finally, they came around to letting us finish it but wanting to hear the new songs we were going to cut.”
ACCORDING TO MELLENCAMP: “The record company thought it would bomb,but I think the reason it took off was – not that the songs were better than my others – but people liked the sound of it, the ‘bam‑bam‑bam’ drums. It was a different sound.”
‘AMERICAN FOOL’ REMAINS MELLENCAMP’S ONLY NUMBER ONE ALBUM, AND HIS BEST SELLING ALBUM. IT WENT ON TO SELL OVER 6 MILLION COPIES.
HERE’S ‘JACK AND DIANE’