He works hard. While this has never translated into greatness when it comes to music, he has made some pretty strong albums. Sometimes a strong work ethic can trump the person who has a lot of talent but does not develop it.
Of Mellencamp's work, The Lonesome Jubilee stands out as one of his best. Coming on the heels of Scarecrow (another really good album), he blends diverse musical elements into hot rock and roll. A fiddle can sound really out of place in rock and roll when it is not used properly, but it works here. Released in 1987, the whole album feels like it could have been part of the Rolling Thunder Revue.
Broken dreams are a primary theme that drives this album. It is a theme that we all have to deal with at some point though we don't always like to talk about it. 'Paper in Fire' literally deals with the moments in life when the dreams we hold closest go up in smoke.
The title of 'Down and Out in
'Check It Out,' 'The Real Life,' and 'Cherry Bomb' all deal with the issues of young people suddenly hitting middle age and not knowing exactly what to do.
While all these songs sound like they could be a real downer, they are not. Not in the slightest way. This is a mature album. I view this album now a lot differently than I did when I bought it 23 years ago. It is not for kids. This album says a lot about my generation if anybody would take the time to listen.
And these days, we need all the help we can get.