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No Better Than This
Studio album by John Mellencamp
Released Fall 2010 (Fall 2010)
Recorded First African Baptist Church, Savannah, GA
Sun Studio, Memphis, TN
Gunter Hotel, San Antonio, TX
July and August 2009
Genre Americana, Folk, roots rock, country blues, Delta blues, rockabilly, alternative country, heartland rock
Label Hear Music
Producer T Bone Burnett
John Mellencamp chronology
Life, Death, Live and Freedom
(2009)
No Better Than This
(2010)
On the Rural Route 7609 (2010)

No Better Than This is an upcoming album by John Mellencamp, produced by T Bone Burnett. The album was recorded at several historic locations throughout the United States. It is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2010.

Mellencamp has said the album will be "as American folk as I've ever been," and official reports suggest that the record will be "a complete change of style-and voice" for the singer. He told Rolling Stone: "I am done being a rock star. I have no interest in that, in having the biggest concerts. I have only one interest: to have fun while we’re doing this and maybe have something that somebody might discover."

Contents

Recording and Production

Mellencamp wrote over 30 songs for potential inclusion on the album, but only 14 will make the final cut. He debuted the first of those, "Save Some Time to Dream," on May 17, 2009 at a political fundraiser for President Barack Obama at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. "It's about individual freedom and thought--and controlling our own lives," Mellencamp said of "Save Some Time to Dream," which he performed solo on acoustic guitar throughout much of his 2009 summer tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

John Mellencamp while on the tour during which he recorded No Better Than This

During breaks on the tour, Mellencamp recorded No Better Than This at historic locations, such as the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia as well as at the historic Sun Studios in Memphis and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where blues pioneer Robert Johnson recorded blues staples like “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Cross Road Blues.” Mellencamp recorded the album using a 1955 Ampex portable recording machine and only one microphone, requiring all the musicians to gather together around the mic. The album was recorded in mono, the same manner as the classic folk and blues recordings of the 1930s and '40s.

Mellencamp wrote one song specifically for Room 414 at the Gunter Hotel, which is the exact room where Johnson recorded in November 1936. He told the San Antonio Express-News, "It's called 'Right Behind Me' or 'Right Behind Us,' I haven't decided yet. I wrote it just for this room. I could have done this in my studio. But I want to do it this way, and if I can't do what I want at this point, I'm not going to do it. If it's not fun, I'm not going to do it. I'm through digging a ditch."

"John is a really great singer and I'm always happy working with him in any environment," T Bone Burnett told the Express-News. "The fact he chose these historic locations is a big plus. The stories that have come out of the sessions are extraordinary. The First African Baptist Church was started in 1775. It was an important stop on the Underground Railroad and central to the civil rights movement. Sun Studio, from a completely different angle, was also important to the civil rights movement and, from another angle, so were Robert Johnson's recordings at the Gunter."

During Mellencamp's session at Sun Studios in late July, he recorded several songs, including "Each Day of Sorrow," "No One Cares About Me," "The West End," and "Easter Evening," which Rolling Stone magazine's David Fricke compared to "one of Bob Dylan's talking blues." Regarding this session, Mellencamp told the magazine, "[T Bone] and I were laughing. We got five songs here last night. We asked ourselves, ‘What the fuck were we doing in the 70s and 80s, spending days and days on a drum sound, when it was all right here the whole time?’"

"Everything was set up exactly as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley recorded. They had 'X' marks made with electrical tape on the floor where Elvis and his musicians stood and where the instruments were placed, because Sam Philips walked around the room and decided where everything sounded best."

Mellencamp wanted to record at the now-derelict Brunswick Records Building in Dallas, where Robert Johnson cut his final sessions in 1937, but the current owner of the building denied him permission to record there.

Mellencamp's favorite song that he's recorded for No Better Than This is "Each Day of Sorrow," as it was reported in a Rolling Stone feature in August 2009 that he turned to Burnett after a run through the song at Sun Studio and said, "That one's the almighty," to which Burnett smiled in agreement.

As for the organic recording process of the album, Mellencamp says it's unique for this day and age. “The same mic I was singing into is the same mic that recorded the drums at the same time,” Mellencamp said on his website. “And everything was cut live with no overdubs or studio nothing! These are real songs being performed by real musicians -- an unheard-of process in today’s world. Real music, for real people!”

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Promotion and Release

NCIS: The Official TV Soundtrack- Vol. 2, on which "Someday the Rains Will Fall" appears

The album is currently set to be released in the fall of 2010. [1]

Mellencamp gave the first live performance of the song "Save Some Time to Dream" on July 10, 2009 in Dayton, Ohio. He subsequently performed the song at several other concerts, including Farm Aid 2009 and a tribute to Myles Brand at Indiana University. He has also completed a painting entitled "Save Some Time to Dream."

In October 2009, it was announced that a song from the album entitled "Someday the Rains Will Fall" would be featured in an episode of NCIS and would appear on the album NCIS: The Official TV Soundtrack - Vol. 2.

Film

Mellencamp's 2009 summer tour of minor league baseball parks with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan and the recording sessions for this album were filmed by renowned photographer Kurt Markus and will be released as a documentary. Markus had previously directed the music video for Mellencamp's 2001 single "Peaceful World."

Track listing

The track listing is not known at this time. The following songs were recorded at the album's recording sessions in San Antonio, TX, Memphis, TN and Savannah, GA. All the songs were written by Mellencamp.

First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia

Savannah

San Antonio

  • "Someday the Rains Will Fall"
  • "Right Behind Me"
Sun Studio in Memphis, TN

Memphis

  • "The West End"
  • "Save Some Time to Dream"
  • "Each Day of Sorrow"
  • "Don't Forget About Me"
  • "No Better Than This"
  • "Coming Down the Road"
  • "Easter Evening"
  • "No One Cares About Me"
  • "Graceful Fall"

Personnel

A John Mellencamp painting titled "Save Some Time to Dream"

External links

References

  1. ^ http://www.mellencamp.com/?module=news&news_item_id=527

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