Life Death Love and Freedomby John Mellencamp
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.]
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Performance CreditsJohn Mellencamp Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
T Bone Burnett Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Electric Guitar,6-string bass,Guitar (Baritone)
Dane Clark Drums,Maracas,Tabla,Tambourine,Shaker,Hi Hat
Dennis Crouch Upright Bass
Mike Wanchic Background Vocals
Andy York Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Mandolin,Percussion,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Guitar (Resonator)
Mike Piersante Shaker
Miriam Sturm Violin
Janas Hoyt Background Vocals
Troye Kinnett Organ,Percussion,Piano,Accordion,Hammond Organ,Melodica
John Gunnell Upright Bass
Technical CreditsT Bone Burnett Producer,Author,Audio Production
Paul Mahern Engineer
John Mellencamp Composer,Lyricist,Author
Tommy Steele Art Direction
Mike Piersante Engineer
Brett Allen Guitar Techician
Matt Andrews Engineer
Paul Ackling Guitar Techician
Emile Kelman Engineer
Elaine Mellencamp Art Direction
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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what a fantastic collection of heartfelt raw tunes...truly evocative and deeply emotional...a supreme piece of work from one of america's most incredible songwriters...the added dvd is very cool as well...
The darkest Mellencamp recording to date. The title of the CD Life, Death, Love and Freedom should simply be entitled " Death" . The songs reek of death and despair. Sounds like a man who has given up on life and is expecting to die and has given up on love and humanity. The best 2 songs are Jena and a Ride Back Home. John can still sing, the vocals are there but c'mon John, life can't be that bad. Remember the good ole days of Pink houses and Cherry Bomb(positive songs of happiness and living life large)Don't waste your money. JW- Albuquerque
Love it, love it, love it!!! A long time Mellencamp fan, and someone who is also in their 50's, I can relate to the songs John has written...reflect on my own life death love and freedom.
best CD he has out... play it all the time
This album shows us the listeners how much talent and diversity Mellencamp has in his body and mind. I think this album is great and I hope every Mellencamp fan buys a copy! Not every day is a Pink House day in America, therefore Mellencamp sings about the other circumstances life in America has to offer.
I loved it! John Cougar definitely has mellowed, and I particularly liked "Longest Days." I want more and I'd just LOVE it if he and his band would come on tour this summer to Tucson!