John Mellencamp plays his latest card with Strictly A One-Eyed Jack
"Sung entirely from one character's seen-it-all POV, One-Eyed Jack finds Mellencamp deploying a Dylanized, throaty twlight-years rasp to great, growly effect." — Music = 4.5/5; Sonics = 4.5/5 — Mike Mettler, The Absolute Sound
"Despite being a songwriter who has decided that his crazy dreams just came and went, Mellencamp pours himself into his music with an undiminished passion. The album is a pleasure to listen to-even if for Mellencamp what used to hurt so good now just hurts." — PopMatters
"An urgent-feeling, musically rich record, one of his most memorable in a while. Whether life has much left to give him is his call to make, but he still has plenty to offer us." — Rolling Stone
John Mellencamp's 25th studio album, Strictly A One-Eyed Jack, was released on Republic Records on January 21, 2022. The album was written and produced by Mellencamp, recorded at his Belmont Mall Studios in Indiana, and recorded/mixed by Grammy-winner David Leonard. It features three collaborations with Bruce Springsteen including the landmark duet "Wasted Days" and new single "Did You Say Such A Thing."
"I had no idea that I'd be 70 years old and still making records," the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and now Bloomington, Indiana resident said in a recent phone interview. As a young person, Mellencamp said he didn't have a vision of reaching a milestone like that.
"Particularly at the time, 1974, ‘75 when I signed my first record deal, there were so many people that would make two records and they were done," he said. "I saw that a million times because that's the way the record companies work, and I figured that's what would happen to me."
He said he had no idea it would be a lifelong occupation.
The new album is out on Republic Records. It was written and produced by Mellencamp at his own Belmont Mall Studios in Bloomington, and it was recorded and mixed there by David Leonard. Scott Davis was assistant engineer, Michael Stucker was technical engineer and Bob Ludwig mastered it at Gateway Mastering Studios.
The album features three collaborations with fellow singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen. He provides harmony vocals and guitar solos on "Did You Say Such a Thing" and vocals and tremolo guitar on "Wasted Days" and has an electric guitar solo on "A Life Full of Rain."
Mellencamp said he has known Springsteen for a long time, but he only knew him to "say hello and exchange pleasantries."
In 2019, though, they performed together during the 30th annual Rainforest Fund benefit concert in New York City.
"We just connected as friends, both of us having the same job. We talked about music, but we talked about other stuff, too," Mellencamp said.
He liked collaborating with Springsteen on this new album.
"He has the rare combination of having a lot of humility but at the same time having a healthy amount of ambition," Mellencamp said of Springsteen. "That's a rare combination to find, that they can balance that."
When he was younger, Mellencamp said he would labor over songs and try to direct them. Now, he said he just lets the songs come to him.
"I know it sounds crazy, but I don't really sit down and think about ‘Well, I'm going to write a song about this or about that.' They just kind of till up in my head ... and then I try to see if the band can play it," he said.
|1. I Always Lie to Strangers|
|2. Driving in the Rain|
|3. I Am a Man That Worries|
|4. Streets of Galilee|
|5. Sweet Honey Brown|
|6. Did You Say Such a Thing|
|1. Gone So Soon|
|2. Wasted Days|
|3. Simply a One-Eyed Jack|
|4. Chasing Rainbows|
|5. Lie to Me|
|6. A Life Full of Rain|