Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Five pick.
Pulling myself out of 1978, I am moving into the 1980s. ~Vic
John Mellencamp‘s Scarecrow album was released on August 5, 1985, 25 days prior to my 19th birthday and six weeks before I started my sophomore year of college. God, what an album. This was Mellencamp’s version of Born In The USA (I own both albums). Roots rock/Heartland rock was the music in the background of my graduation from high school and subsequent foray into college. Minutes To Memories was not an official release from the album but, it managed to make it to #14 on the Top Rock Tracks for one week as a non-single album track. It spoke volumes to me…
“You are young and you are the future
So, suck it up, tough it out
Be the best you can.”
Written by Mellencamp and his childhoon friend George M. Green, it is the #4 track on the album and Mimi Mapes sang backing vocals. Scarecrow made it to #2 on the Billboard 200 chart the week of November 16, 1985 (coming underneath Born In The USA, twice) and stayed for a couple of weeks, stuck behind the Miami Vice Soundtrack.
“I wrote a song called [You’ve Got To] Stand For Something,” [Mellencamp] explains, “but, I never did say what you should stand for…except your own truth. That song was supposed to be funny, too and, I hope people got that. But, I think that’s the key to the whole LP…suggesting that each person come to grips with their own individual truth […] and try to like themselves a little bit more. Find out what you as a person are […] and don’t let the world drag you down. People should have respect for and believe in themselves.”
A deeply felt sense of responsibility and an equally motivating need to atone for past missteps seem to define Scarecrow. On the midtempo Minutes to Memories, Mellencamp tells the story of a young boy riding home to Indiana after a trip to the South. In the next seat on the bus is a seventy-seven-year-old retired steelworker lecturing the child on how to live, backing his advice with experience. “My family and friends are the best things I’ve known,” he instructs, and the child, a budding rebel, chuckles to himself at how out of touch the old dog is.
Easing into the final verse, Mellencamp hushes his band. In a voice just above a whisper, he suddenly shifts the tale from third to first person. He’s the kid on the Greyhound and, his inability to comprehend, let alone act on, the wisdom he was given then, still haunts him… “Now that I’m older I can see he was right.” [T]hen Mellencamp reveals that he’s telling this story to his own son. He knows he’s being silently scoffed at as surely as his travel companion was two decades earlier. Still, he accepts it and the band rocks out.
There is no official video of this song but, the below is one guy’s idea.
Now that I have access to some old Billboard magazines, thirty years ago, today, Everything Is Broken, by American singer/songwriter, author and visual artist Bob Dylan, debuted on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart (called Album Rock Tracks back in 1989), entering at #23. Released from the album Oh Mercy, his 26th studio album, the song is a reflection of Dylan’s detachment from his world. It peaked at number eight after eight weeks on the chart.
The track found on Oh Mercy is an April 1989 re-working of a take recorded the previous month. Originally recorded as “Broken Days” in March 1989, Dylan had re-written the song entirely by April, giving it its current name.
“I sat next to him for two months while he wrote [Oh Mercy] and it was extraordinary. Bob overwrites. He keeps chipping away at his verses. He has a place for all his favorite couplets and those couplets can be interchangeable. I’ve seen the same lyrics show up in two or three different songs as he cuts and pastes them around, so, it’s not quite as sacred ground as you might think.”
From All Dylan:
“Most of them [the songs on “Oh Mercy”] are stream-of-consciousness songs, the kind that come to you in the middle of the night, when you just want to go back to bed. The harder you try to do something, the more it evades you. These weren’t like that.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen, September 21, 1989)
“While it would be unfair to compare ‘Oh Mercy’ to Dylan’s Sixties recordings, it sits well alongside his impressive body of work.”
~Clinton Heylin (Behind The Shades)
[While] promoting The Traveling Wilburys in the fall of 1988, George Harrison discussed some of Dylan’s upcoming work. Harrison [was] enthused about Dylan’s new songs…informing a skeptical world that the experience of recording the Wilburys had given him the urge to write again.
[Bono], lead singer of U2, paid Dylan a visit at his home. When he asked Dylan if he had written any new songs, Dylan showed him the ones stored in his drawer. Bono urged him to record the songs but, Dylan was reluctant.
Lyrics [via LyricFind]
Broken lines, broken strings
Broken threads, broken springs
Broken idols, broken heads
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain’t no use jiving
Ain’t no use joking
Everything is broken
Broken bottles, broken plates
Broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken
Bridge: Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground
Broken cutters, broken saws
Broken buckles, broken laws
Broken bodies, broken bones
Broken voices on broken phones
Take a deep breath, feel like you’re chokin’
Everything is broken
Every time you leave and go off someplace
Things fall to pieces in my face
Broken hands on broken ploughs
Broken treaties, broken vows
Broken pipes, broken tools
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bull frog croaking
Everything is broken
Forty-five years ago, today, James Joseph ‘Jim’ Croce, American folk rock singer-songwriter was killed when the Beechcraft E18S, that he and five others were aboard, crashed into a tree during take-off from the Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The accident also claimed the lives of musician Maurice T. ‘Maury’ Muehleisen, comedian George Stevens, manager & booking agent Kenneth Cortese, road manager Dennis Rast and pilot Robert N. Elliott. Croce’s final concert was at Prather Coliseum.
He is buried at Haym Salomon Memorial Park in Frazer, Pennsylvania. His singer-songwriter wife, Ingrid Jacobson Croce maintains an historical site of their work. Their son, Adrian James ‘A. J.’ Croce is a singer-songwriter in his own right.
His two number one singles…
Behind The Music