Wednesday, December 7, 2011

John Cougar - "This Time"

This Time (Single Version) - Nothin' Matters and What If It Did (Remastered)

(Debuted September 27, 1980, Peaked #27, 16 Weeks on the Chart)

As a young up-and-coming artist, John Mellencamp made several compromises on the way to his big break. First, he was given the name Johnny Cougar by his first manager because he thought "Mellencamp" sounded too ethnic for Americans to handle, despite that fact that he was the personification of middle America. He was also given a reputation as a Hell-raiser which was only partially warranted. Finally, despite the fact that he wrote his own material, his producers and record company had the final say about what his songs would sound like.

When he recorded the LP Nothin' Matters and What if it Did, he was still under that arrangement. Legendary guitarist Steve Cropper produced it, but Mellencamp didn't have a lot of say in what the finished product would sound like despite sinking a huge amount of money into it. Though it produced two Top 40 singles that helped keep his name in the spotlight and  led to his breakthrough American Fool album, he has downplayed the result ever since.

Actually, I like "This Time" as a song. It was a single that stood out among the material around it in late 1980, even if it offered little insight into the material he would bring out once he became famous enough to revert to his given name later in the decade. However, I know from experience that things that were painful to live through aren't always great places to revisit; besides, as his own song, John Mellencamp is free to feel as he wishes about it.

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