Big Daddy (album)

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Big Daddy
Studio album by John Cougar Mellencamp
Released May 9, 1989
Recorded September, 1988-January, 1989
Belmont Mall Studio, Belmont, Indiana
Genre Rock, Folk, Country
Length 41:43
Label Mercury
Producer John Mellencamp
John Cougar Mellencamp chronology
The Lonesome Jubilee
(1987)
Big Daddy
(1989)
Whenever We Wanted
(1991)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars link
Robert Christgau B-[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars link

Big Daddy is the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter and musician John Mellencamp, released in 1989 by Mercury Records. It was his last album to be released under the name John Cougar Mellencamp, a combination of his real name and his original stage name of Johnny Cougar. The album peaked at number seven on the Billboard 200 and contained the singles "Pop Singer" and "Jackie Brown," which peaked at No. 15 and 48, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100. A re-mastered version of the album was released on May 24, 2005, and contains a bonus acoustic version of Jackie Brown. Like The Lonesome Jubilee, Big Daddy is folk-inspired as violins and fiddles (among other instruments) are significantly utilized on a number of tracks. The album's lyrics largely take a serious tone and the album as a whole is regarded by some as Mellencamp's most reflective.

Lyrical themes[edit]

Mellencamp continues his pattern of social commentary used on The Lonesome Jubilee on a number of tracks on the album. "Jackie Brown" addresses the issue of poverty and stimulates images of the hardships faced by those living in poverty. A lyric in the song's final verse which reads "...But who gives a damn about Jackie Brown? Just another lazy man who couldn't take what was his" seems to indicate that Mellencamp believes the issue of poverty to be correlated to the general public and the reluctance to show interest in developing resolutions. "Country Gentleman" is another social commentary addressing Ronald Reagan's presidency and policies. In the song, Mellencamp continually states that it is not Reagan's interest to help the poor, but rather only his "rich friends." "J.M.'s Question" is a broad social commentary addressing many diverse issues prevalent in the United States including the contamination of the environment and violence stemming from the constitutional right to bear arms among other issues. "Void In My Heart" is reflective song regarding Mellencamp's position as an acclaimed singer and as one who has worked hard to make it but still he confesses: "There's a void in my heart I can't seem to fill," which is a reference to the turmoil of Mellencamp's personal life at the time, as he was going through a divorce from his second wife Vicki when he was writing songs for this album. "Big Daddy of Them All" is the account of a parental authority figure whose selfish womanizing ways have led to his downfall, and it is an autobiographical song about Mellencamp himself. The "Big Daddy" name was derived from a character in the old Tennessee Williams play Cat On a Hot Tin Roof -- one of Mellencamp's favorite plays/movies. The single "Pop Singer," which as been widely misinterpreted, refers to living in a disposable, pop world, where McDonalds has infiltrated every town in America. "I just said 'singer' because that's what the hell I do," Mellencamp said on Rockline in 1989. The album takes a less serious tone on two tracks, the first of which titled "Martha Say" -- an account of a stubbornly independent woman whose ways lead Mellencamp to caution her to "look out." "Let It All Hang Out" is the second less serious song and is a cover of a 1967 Hombres tune. Mellencamp has said that it is not really a part of the album; it was merely tacked on as a bonus track.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by John Mellencamp, except where noted.

  1. "Big Daddy Of Them All" – 3:31
  2. "To Live" – 3:18
  3. "Martha Say" – 3:41
  4. "Theo And Weird Henry" – 4:49
  5. "Jackie Brown" – 4:03
  6. "Pop Singer" – 2:48
  7. "Void In My Heart" – 2:30
  8. "Mansions In Heaven" – 3:06
  9. "Sometimes A Great Notion" – 3:33
  10. "Country Gentleman" – 3:17
  11. "J.M.'s Question" – 3:40
  12. "Let It All Hang Out" (B.B. Cunningham/McEwen/Master/Hunter) – 3:11
  13. "Jackie Brown (Acoustic Version)" (2005 re-issue bonus track) - 4:24

Personnel[edit]

  • John Cougar Mellencamp - vocals, guitar
  • Larry Crane - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin
  • Kenny Aronoff - drums, percussion, background vocals
  • Mike Wanchic - electric guitar, bass, dobro, background vocals
  • Toby Myers - bass guitar, background vocals
  • John Cascella - accordion, keyboards
  • Lisa Germano - violin
  • Pat Peterson - background vocals
  • Crystal Taliefero - background vocals, percussion

Charts[edit]

Album - Billboard (North America)[2]

Year Chart Position
1989 The Billboard 200 7
1989 Australian ARIA Albums Chart 1

Singles - Billboard (North America)[3]

Year Single Chart Position
1989 "Pop Singer" The Billboard Hot 100 15
1989 "Pop Singer" Mainstream Rock Tracks 2
1989 "Martha Say" Mainstream Rock Tracks 8
1989 "Jackie Brown" Mainstream Rock Tracks 20
1989 "Jackie Brown" The Billboard Hot 100 48
1989 "Jackie Brown" Top Country Singles Chart 82

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: John Cougar Mellencamp". Robert Christgau. 
  2. ^ Billboard.com - Discography - John Cougar Mellencamp - Big Daddy
  3. ^ Billboard.com - Artist Chart History - John Mellencamp

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Edge by Daryl Braithwaite
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
June 12–18, 1989
Succeeded by
Beaches (soundtrack) by Bette Midler