On the Rural Route 7609

On the Rural Route 7609 is a box set by rock singer/songwriter John Mellencamp that was released on June 15, 2010.[1] The first part of the title refers to the song "Rural Route" (which is included in two versions) 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 references that the set spans Mellencamp's entire recording career from 1976 to 2009.[2] Said Mellencamp in the set's liner notes: "I started making records in '76, and the most recent track on the collection was done in '09. So Rural Route 7609; it's like an address. I thought it sounded cool."

On the Rural Route 7609
Mellencamp Box Cover.jpg
Box set by
ReleasedJune 15, 2010
GenreRock, heartland rock, folk
LabelIsland Def Jam
ProducerJohn Mellencamp
John Mellencamp chronology
Life, Death, Live and Freedom
On the Rural Route 7609
No Better Than This

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. DeCurtis wrote a 4,500-word essay on Mellencamp, and Mellencamp provides track-by-track commentary.


This box set contains four discs and 54 tracks and each disc is set up as an individual album with common themes rather than being presented in chronological order. The purpose behind this set is to highlight Mellencamp's songwriting.

While there are many standard album tracks included on the set, there is also quite a bit of previously unreleased material, although no new unreleased songs. Highlights include Mellencamp's newly recorded version of "Colored Lights" – a song he wrote for The Blasters in 1985 – "Jenny at 16", a demo which ultimately became "Jack and Diane", and recently recorded solo acoustic versions of "Sugar Marie" and "To M.G. (Wherever She May Be)".[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [4]
Rolling Stone     [5]
Goldmine Magazine     [6]
Blurt Magazine          [7]

Rolling Stone magazine senior editor David Fricke gave "On the Rural Route 7609" four stars in the July 8, 2010 issue. Fricke wrote:

These four CDs come in a hardcover book with the heft and texture of a Dust Bowl-family photo album. The setting suits the purpose. This is a study in storytelling – Mellencamp's drive to probe and capture, with folk grit and a great rock band, the gross injustices and precious victories of American life. The hits come with context: "Jack and Diane" appears with two formative demos. But there is more emphasis on honoring, in songs like "Rural Route" and "Ghost Towns Along the Highway", "the Woody Guthrie ideal": a melody and truth to move the world.

Track listingEdit

Disc oneEdit

  1. Longest Days
  2. Grandma's Theme – In the Baggage Coach Ahead (Alternate mix, without simulated record crackle)
  3. Rural Route
  4. Jackie Brown
  5. Rain On The Scarecrow (Rough Harvest version)
  6. Jim Crow with Cornel West **
  7. Jim Crow
  8. Big Daddy of Them All
  9. Deep Blue Heart
  10. Forgiveness
  11. Don't Need This Body
  12. Jenny at 16 *
  13. Jack And Diane (writing demo)*
  14. Jack And Diane

Disc twoEdit

  1. The Real Life with Joanne Woodward **
  2. Ghost Towns Along The Highway
  3. The Full Catastrophe
  4. Authority Song (writing demo)*
  5. Troubled Land
  6. To Washington
  7. Our Country (alternate version)*
  8. Country Gentlemen
  9. Freedom's Road
  10. Mr. Bellows*
  11. Rodeo Clown
  12. Love And Happiness (Rough Harvest version)
  13. Pink Houses

Disc threeEdit

  1. If I Die Sudden (live)
  2. Someday
  3. Between A Laugh and a Tear (Rough Harvest version)
  4. Void in My Heart * (Recorded live at Chess Studios in May 1989)
  5. Death Letter
  6. Sugar Marie *
  7. Theo And Weird Henry
  8. When Jesus Left Birmingham
  9. L.U.V.
  10. Thank You
  11. Women Seem
  12. The World Don't Bother Me None*
  13. Cherry Bomb (writing demo)*
  14. Someday The Rains Will Fall
  15. A Ride Back Home

Disc fourEdit

  1. My Aeroplane
  2. Colored Lights *
  3. Just Like You
  4. Young Without Lovers
  5. To M.G. (Wherever She May Be)*
  6. Sweet Evening Breeze
  7. What If I Came Knocking
  8. County Fair
  9. Peaceful World (writing demo)*
  10. Your Life Is Now
  11. For The Children
  12. Rural Route *

* = Previously unreleased
** = Spoken word reading of lyrics


  1. ^ "John Mellencamp – Official Website :: Homepage". Mellencamp.com. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  2. ^ "John Mellencamp – Official Website :: Homepage". Mellencamp.com. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  3. ^ "John Mellencamp – Official Website :: Homepage". Mellencamp.com. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  4. ^ AllMusic review
  5. ^ "John Mellencamp – Official Website :: John Mellencamp Official Website". www.mellencamp.com. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  6. ^ "Mellencamp's 'On the Rural Route 7609' more than packaging". goldminemag.com. July 4, 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  7. ^ "Blurt Magazine review". blurt-online.com. Retrieved July 18, 2017.