I'm gonna come in for stick for this one. It's never been cool to listen to the man formerly known as Cougar, never mind actually *like* him. Since Jack And Diane made the top 20 back in 1982, Mellencamp's hit singles can be counted on the fingers of a sawmill operator's hand. "Wild Night" tickled the soft underbelly of the top 40 in 1994, and his twenty year retrospective made a sordid #25 four years later.
Even in his native USA, the rockabilly work tends to be overlooked by the popular critics. "It's a throwback to the 60s," declaimed one commentator, who went on to laud the White Stripes.
On this tune, Mellencamp is offering a subtle political message, suggesting that deeds speak louder than rhetoric. "I don't want my kid to be brought up this way," runs one verse. "It's what you do not what you say / If you're not part part of the future then get out of the way," according to the bridge. This connects with the quietly egalitarian message that has run through all Mellencamp's work. Lest we forget, J&D was all about a small town kid making a difference.
The instrumentation is the clincher for this song, though. An almost militaristic beat comes to a dead halt a number of times to allow a dischordant, almost yowling, crowd to yell "yeah-ah-yeah." Reinforcing a positive, upbeat sentiment.
As ever, this has been ignored by British radio.