Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I've often written about being a big
fan of John Mellencamp. I was really excited to see his concert last week at Jones Beach. I remember years ago, I think it was when Big Daddy came out in 1989, that he said he was going to stop touring. He said that it was "devastating as an artist" to have to go out and sing "Hurts So Good" every single night.

Of course, a few years later, he got over it. I've seen him a number of times since his return to touring, and he really cranks out the hits. I'm not someone who will hate on that kind of thing. And with John, it's not a "retro" thing: he has more hits from his recent albums than you think: I'd say that "Walk Tall" from his best of is one of his best songs ever, if not his best. But there's also "This Is Our Country," "To Washington," "Teardrops Will Fall," "Your Life Is Now," "Peaceful World," "I'm Not Running Anymore" just to name a few.

I think Jones Beach was the opening show of the tour, and this was a different show from what I've seen lately. He opened with a re-arranged version of "Pink Houses," usually his closer. That's crazy, Prince doesn't open with "Purple Rain," you know? He re-arranged a bunch of other songs too, and played lots of stuff from his new album, Life, Death, Love and Freedom - an odd move, as the album didn't come out until yesterday (although they were selling it at the show). I'm still digesting the album, but two songs stood out: "My Sweet Love" (which I've heard on the radio) and "If I Die Sudden" (which he played at Farm Aid last year). I think I really like this album. Not including 2003's classic Trouble No More (one of my favorites, it's so underrated) which is all covers, it's my favorite since at least 1996's Mr. Happy Go Lucky (which features one of my favorite Mellencamp songs, "Life Is Hard") and maybe longer than that.

But my favorite part of the show was John's solo acoustic version of one of my favorite songs, "Minutes To Memories." It was a great moment. I'm not suggesting that he do a solo acoustic tour, but I'd love to see a longer solo segment during the show. And I'll be bold enough to request solo versions of "Life Is Hard" and "Between A Laugh And A Tear."

Lucinda opened, and I was a bit nervous about that, given the fact that I "broke up" with her after the last time I saw her perform. Thanks to Long Island's insane traffic, we missed the first half of her set, including the classic "Drunken Angel." She was much better than last time, but she still doesn't seem as authoritative as she was about a decade ago, I don't know why. She closed with a kind of funny version of AC/DC's "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock And Roll)."

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