American Fool is the fifth album released by John Mellencamp, released under the stage name John Cougar in 1982. The album was his commercial breakthrough, reaching number one on the Billboard 200 chart in 1982 and becoming the best-selling album of that year. According to a 1983 article in the Toledo Blade, the song "Danger List" originated when Mellencamp heard his guitarist Larry Crane playing some chords in a basement rehearsal room. "I turned on the tape recorder and sang 30 verses," Mellencamp explained. "I just made them up. Then I went and weeded out the ones I didn't like."
The remastered version was released March 29, 2005 on Mercury/Island/UMe and includes one bonus track.
Producer Don Gehman stated in a 2011 interview that "American Fool" “was fraught with layers of problems. We had 20 or so songs, we had a record company that was hoping we were making a Neil Diamond‑type album, and after we spent two or three months in the studio recording these songs and mixing them to the best of our ability, I can remember an A&R guy in a pink shirt coming in to listen to them and basically thinking we had nothing. At that point, they put a stop to the project. We had ‘Jack & Diane,’ we had ‘Hand To Hold On To,’ we had ‘Weakest Moments’ — we had some good songs — and while I don’t know the precise nature of the discussions that took place, Riva went from wanting to get a new producer to not even wanting John on the label anymore. Finally, they came around to letting us finish it but wanting to hear the new songs we were going to cut.”