"To be real honest, there's three good songs on that record, and the rest is just sort of filler," Mellencamp told Creem Magazine of American Fool in 1984."It was too labored over, too thought about, and it wasn't organic enough. According to the February 1986 edition of Creem Magazine, Mellencamp wanted to incorporate the sound of classic '60s rock into Scarecrow, and he gave his band close to a hundred old singles to learn "almost mathematically verbatim" prior to recording the album.During this time he used drugs and alcohol, stating in a 1986 Rolling Stone interview, "When I was high on pot, it affected me so drastically that when I was in college there were times when I wouldn't get off the couch.I would lie there, listening to Roxy Music, right next to the record player so I wouldn't have to get up to flip the record over. There would be four or five days like that when I would be completely gone." Upon graduating from Vincennes University in 1974, Mellencamp played in several local bands including the glitter-band Trash, which was named for a New York Dolls song, and he later got a job in Seymour installing telephones.I was totally unaware of it until it showed up on the album jacket.When I objected to it, he said, 'Well, either you're going to go for it, or we're not going to put the record out.' So that was what I had to do...This is rock music that tells the truth on both its composer and the culture he's observing. He was born with spina bifida, for which he had corrective surgery as an infant.Mellencamp was unaware of the surgery as well as the life-threatening condition of his infancy until at the age of 12, when a classmate asked him about the scar on the back of his neck.
John has made fiddles, hammer dulcimers Autoharps and accordions lead rock instruments on a par with electric guitar, bass and drums, and he also brought what he calls 'a raw Appalachian' lyrical outlook to his songs.De Fries insisted that Mellencamp's first album, Chestnut Street Incident, a collection of covers and a handful of original songs, be released under the stage name Johnny Cougar, insisting that the bumpy German name "Mellencamp" was too hard to market.