Lonely Ol' Night

"Lonely Ol' Night" is a rock song written and performed by singer-songwriter John Mellencamp. It appeared on his 1985 album Scarecrow and was released as the album's lead single, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached number 1 on the Top Rock Tracks chart, staying at the top spot for five weeks.[3]

"Lonely Ol' Night"
Lonely Ol' Night Single.jpg
Single by John Cougar Mellencamp
from the album Scarecrow
B-side"The Kind of Fella I Am"
ReleasedAugust 24, 1985
RecordedApril 9, 1985[1] at Belmont Mall, Belmont, Indiana
Songwriter(s)John Mellencamp
Producer(s)Little Bastard, Don Gehman[2]
John Cougar Mellencamp singles chronology
"Authority Song"
"Lonely Ol' Night"
"Small Town"
Music video
"Lonely Ol' Night" on YouTube

Background and recordingEdit

The title of "Lonely Ol' Night" was inspired by a scene in the 1963 film Hud starring Paul Newman, based on a book by Larry McMurtry. Mellencamp had seen the film many times as a young man, and its portrayal of Newman's character's strained relationship with his father affected Mellencamp deeply, inspiring many of his song ideas.[4]:73

The recording of "Lonely Ol' Night" occurred on April 9, 1985, according to the "Scarecrow" liner notes. The song was recorded at Belmont Mall in Belmont, Indiana, was Record producer by Mellencamp (under the alias "Little Bastard") and Don Gehman, engineered by Gehman and Greg Edward. Backing Mellencamp were Kenny Aronoff (drums), Toby Myers (bass), Larry Crane (guitar), and Mike Wanchic (guitar, background vocals).[2]

Release and chartsEdit

"Lonely Ol' Night" was the lead single from Scarecrow,[4]:77 following his previous hit single "Authority Song" (from 1983's Uh-Huh) to the Billboard Hot 100, where it debuted August 24, 1985. It peaked at number 6 on that chart and reached number 1 on the Top Rock Tracks chart, staying at the top spot for five weeks. It was Mellencamp's second chart-topper on the Top Rock Tracks chart, following 1982's "Hurts So Good".[3]

Chart performanceEdit

Chart (1985–86) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 32
Canada (RPM100 Singles)[5] 7
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[6] 50
US Billboard Hot 100[3] 6
US Billboard Top Rock Tracks[3] 1
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[7] 37
Year-end chart (1985) Rank
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[8] 86

Music videoEdit

The video for "Lonely Ol' Night" was shot in and around Bloomington, Indiana. The wife of lyricist George Green, friend of Mellencamp's and co-writer of "Hurts So Good," "Crumblin' Down," and "Rain on the Scarecrow," appeared as Mellencamp's girlfriend in the video. According to the Mellencamp biography Born in a Small Town, Green's wife had told Mellencamp not to put "pretty girls" in the video, as it would be unrealistic to suggest their nights would be lonely; Mellencamp replied by offering her a role in the video.[4]:77

In 1985, Mellencamp performed "Lonely Ol' Night" at the MTV Video Music Awards.[9] The song has since become a concert highlight of Mellencamp's.[4]:93 It has also appeared on Mellencamp's greatest hits compilations The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 and Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits.[10]


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Scarecrow – John Mellencamp : Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  2. ^ a b The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 (CD liner). John Mellencamp. United States: Mercury Records. 1997. p. 10. 314 536 738-2.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  3. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th ed.). Billboard Books. p. 419. ISBN 0-8230-7499-4.
  4. ^ a b c d Johnson, Heather (November 1, 2007). Born in a Small Town. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-8256-7336-8.
  5. ^ "RPM – Item Display: Top Singles – Volume 43, No. 8, November 02 1985" (.Php). Library and Archives Canada. March 31, 2004.
  6. ^ "Charts.nz – John Cougar Mellencamp – Lonely Ol' Night". Top 40 Singles.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 161.
  8. ^ "1985 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 52. December 28, 1985. p. T-21.
  9. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards: Show Highlights, Winners, Performers, Hosts and More From Past Video Music Awards". MTV. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  10. ^ "John Mellencamp: Lonely Ol' Night". AllMusic. Retrieved November 3, 2010.

External linksEdit