Scarecrow (Bonus Track) [2005 Remaster]
Released in 1985, at the peak of the decade’s neon garishness, John Mellencamp’s Scarecrow comes off like a tight Saturday night set played at the local VFW hall. “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” nails a balance of ’60s energy and ’80s grit. Meanwhile, the haunting-but-wholesome “Rain on the Scarecrow” is both celebration and elegy for an endangered American farm culture. At the album’s core is “Small Town,” a three-chord anthem that marries the gleaming melodicism of The Byrds to Woody Guthrie’s rustic simplicity.