(Debuted April 26, 1986, Peaked #21, 12 Weeks on the Charts)
It was interesting to see John Mellencamp mature during the 1980s. At first, his hit singles were pop tunes that fans liked but critics weren't all that crazy about. After his breakthrough LP American Fool, he began changing his image and the songs that would make it to Top 40 radio. The first order of business was to take his name back: John Cougar became John Cougar Mellencamp in 1983 and the "Cougar" was dropped altogether later on. His 1983 LP Uh-Huh featured a couple of singles that were less record company-dictated attitude and more of the material people might expect from an Indiana boy.
And then came Scarecrow. At the time, the plight of farmers in Mellencamp's home state was becoming a big deal, and he saw a need to help do something about it. The record was filled with images that related to those of us in small-town America (even if my particular small town wasn't located in the Midwest). It was a very blue-collar record.
To prove that he wasn't just trying to sell records, Mellencamp was a part of the group that organized Farm Aid to benefit farmers and has played in most of the events since 1985. Say what you will about his outspoken political stance, but there's no denying the man is fiercely proud of where he came from.