John Mellencamp - Life Death Love and Freedom

John Mellencamp - Life Death Love and Freedom
Genre: Pop\Rock
Artist: John Mellencamp
Album: Life Death Love and Freedom
Release Date: July 15, 2008
Recording Location: Belmont Mall, Nashville, IN; Electro Magnetic Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Sound Emporium Studios, Nashville, TN
Styles: Heartland Rock, Roots Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Pop/Rock

After making much of his artistic integrity and opposition to corporate interference for most of his career, John Mellencamp prefaced his previous album, 2007's Freedom's Road, by licensing one of its songs, "Our Country," for use in a television commercial for a truck. The broad exposure for the brief excerpt from the song helped give him his first singles chart entry in eight years, a one-week appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 88; it's not clear how many trucks it may have helped sell. There don't seem to be any songs on Mellencamp's 23rd album, Life Death Love and Freedom, that could be used to sell products. The choruses of songs like "Longest Days" ("Life is short, even in its longest days") and "John Cockers" ("I ain't got no friends") just don't seem to lend themselves to association with shopping of any kind. And maybe that's the point. Mellencamp's second consecutive album to use the word "Freedom" in the title is really the 56-year-old singer/songwriter's reflection on the lack of freedom, along with a life that seems to be almost over, love still idealized (the Buddy Holly-like "odd song out" here, "My Sweet Love"), and death, plenty of death. Musically, Mellencamp seems to have been listening closely to the first five Bob Dylan albums, paying more attention to the first of them, the largely traditional, folk-blues-styled Bob Dylan, than the last, the folk-rock Bringing It All Back Home. "If I Die Sudden," for example, has much of the feel and sound of "In My Time of Dyin'" on Bob Dylan. But unlike the young Dylan, who probably sang such songs without any direct consciousness of his own mortality, the aging Mellencamp, who has survived one heart attack already, brings real conviction to his reflections on death. Unfortunately, he is not much reconciled to it. He looks back regretfully on his heedless youth, and he has the sense not only that he personally has failed to fulfill his promise, but that the world he sees around him has declined instead of improving. "Everything you were after has gone down the drain," he laments in the concluding track, "A Brand New Song." This follows "For the Children," in which he attempted to muster some hope for the next generation, managing the conclusion, "All I can do is my best and be thankful for what we've got." In truth, the forced pessimism of these songs is consistent for an artist who titled an early album Nothin' Matters and What If It Did and sang, in the chorus of his most famous song, "Jack & Diane," "Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone." Now, however, he is able to invest it with an assumption of experienced, mature wisdom. Yet it remains as much about him as it is about the world he sees around him. [Life Death Love and Freedom was the first release to include a disc in the CODE format, a new technology playable on most DVD players.]

Longest Days / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:10
My Sweet Love / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:27
If I Die Sudden / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:48
Troubled Land / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:25
Young Without Lovers / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp2:42
John Cockers / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:55
Don't Need This Body / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:27
A Ride Back Home / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:14
Without a Shot / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:42
Jena / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:42
Mean / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp2:36
County Fair / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:44
For the Children / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp4:39
A Brand New Song / John MellencampJohn Mellencamp3:57

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