American Fool

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American Fool
JC American Fool.jpg
Studio album by John Cougar
Released April 12, 1982 (1982-04-12)
Recorded Cherokee Studios, Criteria Studios
Genre Rock, heartland rock
Length 34:26
Label Riva
Producer John Mellencamp, Don Gehman
John Cougar chronology
Nothin' Matters And What If It Did
American Fool
The Kid Inside
Singles from American Fool
  1. "Hurts So Good"
    Released: April 1982
  2. "Jack & Diane"
    Released: July 1982
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau B[2]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[3]

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.[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by John Mellencamp, except where noted

  1. "Hurts So Good" (Mellencamp, George M. Green) – 3:42
  2. "Jack & Diane" – 4:16
  3. "Hand to Hold on To" – 3:25
  4. "Danger List" (Mellencamp, Larry Crane) – 4:28
  5. "Can You Take It" – 3:35
  6. "Thundering Hearts" (Mellencamp, Green) – 3:40
  7. "China Girl" (Joe New, Jeff Silbar) – 3:34
  8. "Close Enough" – 3:38
  9. "Weakest Moments" – 4:07
  10. "American Fool" (2005 re-issue bonus track) – 3:46


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.”


Year Chart Position
1982 Billboard 200 1
Year Title Chart Position
1982 "Hurts So Good" Billboard Hot 100 2
Cash Box Top 100 Singles 1
1982 "Jack and Diane" Billboard Hot 100 1
Cash Box Top 100 Singles 1
1982 "Hand to Hold On To" Billboard Hot 100 19
Cash Box Top 100 Singles 22
Charted album tracks
Year Title Chart Position
1982 "Hurts So Good" Billboard Top Tracks 1
1982 "Jack and Diane" Billboard Top Tracks 3
1982 "Thundering Hearts" Billboard Top Tracks 36



  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "American Fool". Allmusic. Retrieved January 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ Robert Christgau. "CG: Artist 688". Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ Ken Emerson (September 2, 1982). "American Fool". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 liner notes (1997)
Preceded by
Mirage by Fleetwood Mac
Billboard 200 number-one album
September 11 - November 12, 1982
Succeeded by
Business as Usual by Men at Work