Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

American Fool

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John Mellencamp

Riva Records

American Fool (1982)
The Kid Inside (1983)

Release date
12 April 1982

American Fool httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaen22cJC

April 12, 1982 (1982-04-12)

Cherokee Studios, Criteria Studios 1981–82

John Mellencamp, Don Gehman

Rock music, Heartland rock

Grammy Award for Album of the Year

John Mellencamp albums, Rock music albums

American Fool is the fifth studio album by John Mellencamp, released under the stage name John Cougar in 1982. The album was his commercial breakthrough, holding the #1 position on the Billboard album chart for nine weeks. It was one of 1982's best-selling albums.


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, the previously unreleased title track.

John cougar mellencamp american fool bonus track 2005 reissue


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."

Track listing

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






  • John Mellencamp – lead vocals
  • Larry Crane – guitar, background vocals
  • Mike Wanchic – guitar, background vocals
  • Kenny Aronoff – drums
  • George "Chocolate" Perry – bass
  • Mick Ronson – guitar, background vocals
  • Robert "Ferd" Frank – bass, background vocals
  • Eric Rosser – keyboards
  • Dave Parman – background vocals
  • Songs

    1Hurts So Good3:40
    2Jack & Diane4:16
    3Hand to Hold on To3:26


    American Fool Wikipedia