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On the Rural Route 7609
Box set by John Mellencamp
Released June 2010
Recorded various times and places 1976-2009
Genre Rock, folk, heartland rock
Label Island Def Jam
Producer John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp chronology
No Better than This
On the Rural Route 7609

On the Rural Route 7609 is a planned box set by rock singer/songwriter John Mellencamp that was originally scheduled to be released in the fall of 2009, but it has been delayed until June 2010. [1] The first part of the title refers to the song "Rural Route" from his 2007 album Freedom's Road and the fact that Mellencamp's music and lifestyle have always been very rural in nature, and 7609 referenced that the set spans Mellencamp's entire recording career from 1976 to 2009.[2]

The liner notes for "On the Rural Route 7609" were penned by veteran rock journalist Anthony DeCurtis, who also wrote the liner notes for Eric Clapton's Crossroads and Billy Joel's My Lives.


This box set was originally expected to include a disc of early demo recordings, two discs of various versions of well-known songs and previously unreleased songs, and a fourth disc that was to include different versions of other material. It was estimated that 65-75% of the material on the box set was going to be previously unreleased recordings -- either demos or alternate versions of familiar songs or songs that were never released for one reason or another. [3]

"It will be a broad overview of my songwriting, and it will be much more about the writing than about the hit records or the versions of songs you may be familiar with," Mellencamp said of the box set in the spring of 2009.

A number of the tracks were scheduled to be alternate takes of classic songs. "Some of them show me actually in the process of writing them," Mellencamp said, "so there's a lot of stopping and starting up again-a lot of head-scratching. It's turned into quite a project." [2]

In December 2009, Mellencamp's website said that the set would be four discs and each disc will be set up as an individual album rather than being presented in chronological order. He stated in the interview that there would be an emphasis on album tracks as well as live and acoustic versions of well-known songs. [4]

Track listing

Mellencamp had said in a radio interview that the set would include "Jenny At 16" -- a song that predates "Jack and Diane" and actually contains some of the lyrics that would find their way into his only No. 1 hit [5] -- in addition to a raw version of the Trisha Yearwood duet "Deep Blue Heart" from 2001's Cuttin' Heads. "I felt like calling [Trisha] up and saying, 'Gosh, I forgot about that song. You were fantastic on that song!' I mean, she's just fantastic," Mellencamp told CMT radio in May 2009. [6]

There are going to be two readings of Mellencamp songs by legendary figures that aren't singers included on "On the Rural Route 7609." Dr. Cornel West recited the lyrics to "Jim Crow," which was originally a duet with Joan Baez on 2007's Freedom's Road [7], while actress Joanne Woodward delivered an emotionally-charged reading of the lyrics to "The Real Life" from 1987's The Lonesome Jubilee. "When I was growing up Joanne Woodward was my favorite actress," Mellencamp told CMT radio. "I admire so few people [but] in my mind she was the best actress ever to walk on screen and she was so beautiful, too. And she's 80 years-old and just read [the lyrics to 'The Real Life'] for my box set that's getting ready to come out, and I just couldn't believe it because she made the poetry so much better than it really was." [6]




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