Human Wheels

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Human Wheels
Studio album by John Mellencamp
Released September 7, 1993
Recorded 1992–1993
Genre Rock
Length 45:17
Label Mercury
Producer John Mellencamp, Malcolm Burn, David Leonard, Mike Wanchic
John Mellencamp chronology
Whenever We Wanted
Human Wheels
Dance Naked
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars link
Entertainment Weekly A[1]
Q 4/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau (dud)[3]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars [4][2]

Human Wheels is the 12th album by American singer-songwriter and musician John Mellencamp. Released on Mercury Records in 1993, it peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. The single "What If I Came Knocking" was Mellencamp's last No. 1 single on the Album Rock Tracks chart, staying atop for two weeks in the summer of 1993.

The title track was borne out of a poem Mellencamp's friend George Green wrote as a eulogy he delivered at the grave site upon the death of his grandfather. “He had no intention of using it as a song,” Mellencamp said in a 2008 interview with the Bloomington Herald Times. “He had me read it and I said, ‘These are the best lyrics you ever wrote.’ He said, ‘They’re not lyrics’ and I said ‘I can make them lyrics.’ I took it and kind of cut it up and wrote the chorus.”[5]

The album is dedicated to band member John Cascella, who died unexpectedly about halfway through production of the album.

Entertainment Weekly gave the record an "A" rating, stating: "John Mellencamp's last album was more or less straight-ahead rock, but there's something dark and unshaven about his new one, 'Human Wheels.' Oddball instruments — pennywhistles, mandolins — pop up like disordered wraiths over gritty drum tracks that sound like they were recorded in a cluttered cellar. Mellencamp himself mutters and snarls in a voice of tangled complexity, worrying his way through songs about trouble."

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by John Mellencamp, except where noted.

  1. "When Jesus Left Birmingham" – 5:16
  2. "Junior" – 4:08
  3. "Human Wheels" (Mellencamp/Green) – 5:33
  4. "Beige to Beige" – 3:52
  5. "Case 795 (The Family)" – 5:15
  6. "Suzanne and the Jewels" – 3:55
  7. "Sweet Evening Breeze" – 4:51
  8. "What If I Came Knocking" – 5:05
  9. "French Shoes" – 3:41
  10. "To the River" (Ian/John Vezner/Mellencamp) – 3:33
  11. "When Jesus Left Birmingham" (2005 re-issue bonus track) - 3:58


  • John Mellencamp - vocals, guitar
  • Kenny Aronoff - drums, percussion
  • David Grissom - guitars, mandolin, bass
  • Lisa Germano - violin, mandolin, penny whistle, zither, background vocals
  • Toby Myers - bass, background vocals
  • Pat Peterson - background vocals, accordion, maracas
  • Mike Wanchic - guitars, dobro, dulcimer, background vocals
  • Malcolm Burn - organ, guitar, harmonica, synthesizer
  • John Cascella - accordion, organ, background vocals, penny whistle, melodica


Album - Billboard (North America)[6]

Year Chart Position
September 25, 1993 The Billboard 200 7

Singles - Billboard (North America)[7]

Year Single Chart Position
1993 "When Jesus Left Birmingham" Mainstream Rock Tracks 35
1993 "What If I Came Knocking" Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
1993 "Human Wheels" The Billboard Hot 100 48
1993 "Human Wheels" Mainstream Rock Tracks 2


  1. ^ Sandow, Greg (1993-09-10). "Human Wheels Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-11-05. 
  2. ^ a b "John Mellencamp - Human Wheels CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 2012-11-05. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: John Mellencamp". Robert Christgau. 
  4. ^ McLeese, Don (1993-09-30). "Human Wheels". Rolling Stone: 101. Retrieved 2012-11-05. 
  5. ^ Songwriter, Mellencamp collaborator George Green dies at 59. Bloomington Herald Times.
  6. ^ - Discography - John Mellencamp - Human Wheels
  7. ^ - Artist Chart History - John Mellencamp