Jackie Brown - John Cougar Mellencamp (1989)
First he was Johnny Cougar, a teen idol gimmick created by David Bowie's manager Tony Defries that never panned out success-wise. Then, he was John Cougar, a tough rock and roller who got his first hit when Pat Benatar covered " I Need A Lover". Through that name change, he also became a star with the peerless American Fool and Uh Huh albums.
When he started using his real last name along with the "Cougar" Moniker however, that's where the story gets juicy.
Scarecrow was one of the best albums of the 80's, and its followup The Lonesome Jubilee showed that this guy was in it for the long haul.
But Big Daddy....none of us were ready for that.
The man now simply called John Mellencamp sowed the seeds of what he is today on that 1989 release. Here we were shown that rock wasn't Mellencamp's shining genre. It was folk, and he was damned good at it.
"Jackie Brown" is one of those songs that instantly attach itself to the artist who created it. It may not be his biggest hit, and he has definitely continued to improve in his journey towards being one of the best roots artists in the world. But "Jackie Brown" showed us what was to come. In its simple story of a downtrodden American, John showed us his humanity. It wasn't just focused on select groups like farmers anymore. Jackie Brown was all of us. Its concept of struggle is universal and still reverberates ever so strongly in these times.
John Mellencamp is the closest thing in music today that we have to Pete Seeger in his prime (Sorry Boss!)
Those who have written him off as the "Jack and Diane" guy have some major discoveries ahead of them. Enjoy the journey.