13 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After surviving a massive heart attack, John Mellencamp confronted life, death and other serious matters on 1996’s Mr. Happy Go Lucky. In the process, he retooled his studio approach with production input from dance-pop wizard Junior Vasquez. Replacing the acoustic folk touches of earlier albums are sultry, hard-pulsing grooves, bringing an urban sophistication to Mellencamp’s brand of heartland rock. Tracks like “Mr. Bellows,” “Circling Around the Moon” and “Jerry” have an ominous urgency about them, while “This May Not Be the End of the World” has a spacey, almost psychedelic feel. There are sunnier moments as well, such as the playfully sexy “Key West Intermezzo (I Saw Her First”) and the tropically-inflected “Just Another Day.” Mellencamp’s most fervent testimonial comes in “Life Is Hard,” a clear-eyed look at mortality set to a slinky, body-grabbing track. If its title seems a bit ironic, it is true that the album finds a new joy in fresh sounds, even as it digs into heavy lyric topics. Mr. Happy Go Lucky adds a bolder rhythmic focus to Mellencamp’s music.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After surviving a massive heart attack, John Mellencamp confronted life, death and other serious matters on 1996’s Mr. Happy Go Lucky. In the process, he retooled his studio approach with production input from dance-pop wizard Junior Vasquez. Replacing the acoustic folk touches of earlier albums are sultry, hard-pulsing grooves, bringing an urban sophistication to Mellencamp’s brand of heartland rock. Tracks like “Mr. Bellows,” “Circling Around the Moon” and “Jerry” have an ominous urgency about them, while “This May Not Be the End of the World” has a spacey, almost psychedelic feel. There are sunnier moments as well, such as the playfully sexy “Key West Intermezzo (I Saw Her First”) and the tropically-inflected “Just Another Day.” Mellencamp’s most fervent testimonial comes in “Life Is Hard,” a clear-eyed look at mortality set to a slinky, body-grabbing track. If its title seems a bit ironic, it is true that the album finds a new joy in fresh sounds, even as it digs into heavy lyric topics. Mr. Happy Go Lucky adds a bolder rhythmic focus to Mellencamp’s music.

TITLE TIME

More By John Mellencamp