Behind the lyrics of the song: “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp


“I think all good things probably started out as jokes,” John Mellencamp said in 1982. “Didn’t God laugh when he made this whole place? “

At the time, the then 30-year-old Mellencamp (who used the name “John Cougar”) was at the start of a very notable “good thing” – throughout that year he released a series of singles. now iconic (including his signature hit, “Jack & Diane”), all supporting the release of his groundbreaking album, American fool. The following year he accepted the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, and the rest is rock and roll history.

But the spark that really kindled John Mellencamp’s flame was a tune that itself started out as a joke: his single, “Hurts So Good”.

With its opening backbeat, flaming guitar riff, and Mellencamp’s deep, soulful vocals on the lyrics, the song is a brilliant, nostalgic expression of embracing life regardless of its often rough edges.

When I was a young boy
I said, ‘Put away those young boy ways’
Now that I’m getting older, so much older
I long for those young boy’s days
With a girl like you
With a girl like you
God knows there are things we can do, baby
Just you and me
Come and make one

Bad so good
Come on, baby, hurt so bad
Sometimes love doesn’t feel the way it should
You hurt so bad

All the things together, “Hurts So Good” is an electrifying song, one that will get your foot stomped and your head banged … which makes sense, given that it was written in such a jovial manner by Mellencamp and one of his collaborating childhood friends, George Green.

“I literally imagined this song in the shower at my house in Bloomington,” Mellencamp wrote in the cover notes of The best I could do (1978-1988). “I was still soaking wet when I got dressed, walked out of my room and said to my old songwriter friend George Green, ‘Hey! I just thought of a great chorus.

With the spark alight, the two immediately jumped at the idea. “We thought it was like a Shel Silverstein thing – it was really just a joke,” Mellencamp said in the same 1982 interview with The LA Herald Examiner where did the opening quote for this article come from. Speaking years later to American songwriter Paul Zollo, he explained that he and Green “exchanged lines with each other and laughed about it at the time. Then I went to get the guitar, and within seconds I had these chords.

Just like that, “Hurt So Good” was born. Soon after, Mellencamp entered Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles with drummer Kenny Aronoff, bassist George “Chocolate” Perry, and guitarists Larry Crane and Mike Wanchic, and the track was immortalized on tape. Then they headed twenty miles southwest of Mellencamp’s hometown, Seymour, Indiana, to the small town of Medora, Indiana, to shoot a catchy music video (that was in 82 – MTV had a year).

In August 1982, “Hurts So Good” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, only being retained from the coveted No.1 spot by Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, which was taking the world by storm. the same time. time. That winter, Mellencamp received her first Grammy nomination, thanks to her vocal performance on the song.

With this, John Mellencamp’s decades-long legacy really began, taking the nation by storm and providing a crucial foundation for the genre of Heartland Rock. Still going strong at 70, Mellencamp carries on that legacy today, writing songs, playing shows, making jokes and loving all the good things that can come of it.


Check out more coverage on John Mellencamp HERE.

Photo by Marc Hauser / Sacks & Co


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