Happy 2017 everyone! Hope your holiday season treated you well!
For the January 8, 2017 edition of STUCK IN THE 80s, my little retro radio show on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine, I’ll be hosting my final (?) All-Request Fest. It’s something I thought of years ago as a way to give back to everyone who tuned in to the show and pledged money on STUCK IN THE 80s during the bi-annual pledge drives. From Pop to Punk, Rap to Rock, New Wave to New Romantics, it’s about the listeners and their requests, and it’s always spontaneous and fun.
For this final (?) edition of the All-Request Fest, I’ll also be channeling my inner chart nerd and will bring folks 17 for ’17, where I’ll be playing just some of the many songs that peaked at No. 17 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989. So, from now until the All-Request Fest, I’ll be posting all No. 17 hits…just because, well, I AM a chart nerd. And I’m okay with that.
Today’s installment was the first Top 20 hit (third hit overall) for the artist formerly known as John Cougar – 1981’s “Ain’t Even Done With The Night,” from the 1980 album, NOTHIN’ MATTERS AND WHAT IF IT DID (his fourth album).
On the BILLBOARD Hot 100, “Ain’t Even Done With The Night” debuted at No. 81 in late January ’81, and by mid-March, it became the third Top 40 hit for the Seymour, Indiana native, following “I Need A Lover” (December 1979, No. 28) and “This Time” (December 1980, No. 27). It went on to spend two weeks at No. 17 in May 1981, about a year before his life would change forever with his next Top 40 hit, “Hurts So Good.”
In Canada, “Ain’t Even Done With The Night” was John’s first Top 40 hit, and first Top 10 hit, reaching No. 6.
In 1983, three years after the release of NOTHIN’ MATTERS AND WHAT IF IT DID (his first Platinum album), and the first year John incorporated his real last name as part of his stage name – John Cougar Mellencamp – he did a memorable interview with RECORD MAGAZINE about his discontent with the album:
“The singles were stupid little pop songs. I take no credit for that record. It wasn’t like the title was made up – it wasn’t supposed to be punky or cocky like some people thought. Toward the end, I didn’t even go to the studio. Me and the guys in the band thought we were finished, anyway. It was the most expensive record I ever made. It cost $280,000, do you believe that? The worst thing was that I could have gone on making records like that for hundreds of years. Hell, as long as you sell a few records and the record company isn’t putting a lot of money into promotion, you’re making money for ‘em and that’s all they care about. PolyGram loved NOTHIN’ MATTERS. They thought I was going to turn into the next Neil Diamond.”
Well, John didn’t turn into the next Neil Diamond. What he did turn into was a Rock superstar, one of the founding members of Farm Aid, a 2008 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee in 2008, and the ninth-biggest BILLBOARD singles recording artist of the 1980s, with 16 consecutive Top 40 hits between 1980 and 1988 (including nine Top 10 hits and one No. 1 – 1982’s “Jack And Diane”).
By his eleventh studio album, WHENEVER WE WANTED, in 1991 (featuring the Top 15 hit, “Get A Leg Up”), he was credited (finally) by his given name of John Mellencamp, and stayed with Mercury through 1996.
Even though John may not have thought much of the song (or album) at the time, I’ve always been a fan of “Ain’t Even Done With The Night,” mainly because it’s one of the songs that turned me on to the music of John Mellencamp. And for that reason, I’ll be forever grateful.
I think Billy Joel said it best when he inducted John into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2008, in a statement that could have been said yesterday: “Don’t let this club membership change you, John. Stay ornery, stay mean. We need you to be pissed off, and restless because no matter what they tell us – we know this country is going to hell in a handcart.
“This country’s been hijacked. You know it, and I know it. People are worried. People are scared, and people are angry. People need to hear a voice like yours that’s out there to echo the discontent that’s out there in the heartland. They need to hear stories about it. They need to hear stories about frustration, alienation and desperation.
“They need to know that somewhere out there somebody feels the way that they do in the small towns and in the big cities. They need to hear it. And it doesn’t matter if they hear it on a jukebox, in the local gin mill, or in a goddamn truck commercial because they ain’t gonna hear it on the radio any more. They don’t care how they hear it as long as they hear it good and loud and clear the way you’ve always been saying it all along. You’re right, John, this is still our country.”
Keep the good thought, John, and keep on rockin’ this U.S. of A.…