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John Mellencamp's Plain Spoken

That leadoff track adds up everything in its unequal-length verses, the pieces of a life, the happier bits fallen out, rotten pieces in a too-humid jigsaw — and every equation equals no peace. That’s the algebra of the fallen, or the ones who just fell out in the first place. “Sometimes There’s God” plays with the binary, he’s up there or he’s not up there, and its “forgiven” cannot, contextually, exist on the “not” side.

Video:

"Sometimes There's God," John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp's "Sometimes There's God," from his latest record, <em>Plain Spoken</em>

John Mellencamp's "Sometimes There's God," from his latest record, Plain Spoken

Unless humanity fills in. And that’s what has to happen to keep someone listening to this record from breaking a window and using the shards. Out of loneliness. No one, according to the credits, produced this album. Mellencamp plays nothing, except maybe the equally uncredited harmonica. The cover shows him to scale against street graffiti, crude and seemingly nonsensical — a cipher minus key. On the back someone’s written a poem to a woman, I think. The poet doesn’t seem confident he’ll get through. Sung lyrics reaffirm all that. The singer’s in the company of cowards. He’s probably the “Mister,” isolated, quitting a lover he couldn’t appreciate in the first place, because he can’t appreciate the world, full stop.

So show thanks for gentle, sparse, guitars entwining. For organ biding its time like a long smile deep in the mix. That open-prairie harmonica. Tubs subtly thumped. Words may hold no hope, then — but deeds, the praise to the world that hands make, still make beauty. We used our hands before language. And we put them together before music.

  • Album: Plain Spoken
  • Artist: John Mellencamp
  • Label: Republic
  • Songs: (1) Troubled Man (2) Sometimes There’s God (3) The Isolation of Mister (4) The Company of Cowards (5) Tears in Vain (6) The Brass Ring (7) Freedom of Speech (8) Blue Charlotte (9) The Courtesy of Kings (10) Lawless Times
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That leadoff track adds up everything in its unequal-length verses, the pieces of a life, the happier bits fallen out, rotten pieces in a too-humid jigsaw — and every equation equals no peace. That’s the algebra of the fallen, or the ones who just fell out in the first place. “Sometimes There’s God” plays with the binary, he’s up there or he’s not up there, and its “forgiven” cannot, contextually, exist on the “not” side.

Video:

"Sometimes There's God," John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp's "Sometimes There's God," from his latest record, <em>Plain Spoken</em>

John Mellencamp's "Sometimes There's God," from his latest record, Plain Spoken

Unless humanity fills in. And that’s what has to happen to keep someone listening to this record from breaking a window and using the shards. Out of loneliness. No one, according to the credits, produced this album. Mellencamp plays nothing, except maybe the equally uncredited harmonica. The cover shows him to scale against street graffiti, crude and seemingly nonsensical — a cipher minus key. On the back someone’s written a poem to a woman, I think. The poet doesn’t seem confident he’ll get through. Sung lyrics reaffirm all that. The singer’s in the company of cowards. He’s probably the “Mister,” isolated, quitting a lover he couldn’t appreciate in the first place, because he can’t appreciate the world, full stop.

So show thanks for gentle, sparse, guitars entwining. For organ biding its time like a long smile deep in the mix. That open-prairie harmonica. Tubs subtly thumped. Words may hold no hope, then — but deeds, the praise to the world that hands make, still make beauty. We used our hands before language. And we put them together before music.

  • Album: Plain Spoken
  • Artist: John Mellencamp
  • Label: Republic
  • Songs: (1) Troubled Man (2) Sometimes There’s God (3) The Isolation of Mister (4) The Company of Cowards (5) Tears in Vain (6) The Brass Ring (7) Freedom of Speech (8) Blue Charlotte (9) The Courtesy of Kings (10) Lawless Times
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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