This song is about the financial difficulties farmers in the Midwest US face; difficulties that can go as far as having their farms repossessed by banks. Mellencamp wrote the song with his friend George Green, who he worked with on many of this tracks, including "Hurts So Good."
"Our songs always came about the same way: talk around the kitchen table," Mellencamp told Rolling Stone. "I had just played 'Small Town' for him. He said, "I don't know why these towns are going out of business" - towns like Freetown and Dudleytown, Indiana. We couldn't figure out why they were disappearing. We did our research and wrote this song - Reagan had been using grain against the Soviet Union and all sorts of other things. Talking to people was heartbreaking. Nobody wanted to lose their farm."
Mellencamp has taken an active role in helping American farmers. Along with Neil Young and Willie Nelson, he regularly plays at the Farm-Aid concerts to help raise money.
When the banker forecloses on the farm in this song, Mellencamp introduces himself into it:
He said, "John its just my job and I hope you understand" Hey calling it your job ol' Hoss sure dont make it right
This bit was culled from the movie Cool Hand Luke, where the boss man puts Paul Newman's character, Luke, in "the box" (solitary confinement), telling him, "Sorry, Luke. I'm just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that."
Luke replies: "Nah, calling it your job don't make it right, Boss."
Another track on the album, "Lonely Ol' Night," also uses dialogue from a Paul Newman movie: the 1963 film Hud. In that one, a character asks, "It's a lonesome ol' night, isn't it?"
George from Vancouver, CanadaAnother winning song by Mellencap that I had thought was Springsteen. . .
Budd Cardone from FloridaThe Russian grain embargo was initiated by Jimmy Carter, not Reagan.
Jessica from Maine, UsaTo Nick from Seymour, Indiana...you wrote you are the son of the songwriter. If possible ask your dad if the line "calling it your job 'ol hoss sure don't make it right" was inspired by a very similar line from the film, Cool Hand Luke. It's said during the scene when Paul Newman is put in(or let out..I forget) from the "hotbox" in the prison/work camp Newman was sent after damaging the parking meters and spoken by Strother Martin (I think was the actor's name). Just curious. Thanks and God Bless.
Tim from Grant, AlabamaI always thought that this was Mellencamp's best song ever and it's message rings loud and clear. We seen J.M. in concert back in the mid to late 80's in Birmingham, Alabama and it was one of the best I have attended. That is saying a lot because we hit the live venues in force back in the day. The only one I can remember that was a slightly better show than Mellencamp put on was Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band Also in Birmingham. I still say Great Job John!!
Dana from Woodbury, MnSongs like this and "Born In The U.S.A." prove that the 1980's were not all one big party and that not everyone benefited from the 1980's boom. Like any other decade, the 1980's had it's dark side as well.
Leo from Westminster 1, MdRain on the Scarecrow is a harrowing Classic Rock song and a brilliant song by John Mellencamp. In this song, Kitty Cat Mellencamp writes about his own sad Meowing life as a farmer and why he's furious that his Midwest Indiana American farm has been taken away and foreclosed. John is Meowing and Crying "Rain on the scarecrow/Blood on the plow/This land fed a Nation/This land made me so Proud!"-Mellencamp is rightfully angry as as well he should be! From Reagan to Obama, the Backbone of America is broken. Out here where I live outside of Baltimore, the farms are disappearing at an alarming rate! Is there any human dignity left in the Maryland fields/countryside? Does anybody out there even care? Thanks Johnny for writing this anthem! Rain on the Scarecrow-The best Classic Rock song of the Eighties. Nearly 30 years later, the piece hits-and then it shudders-if the impact is indeed right!
David from Bloomington, InI also know George Green was the writer of this song because I am from Bloomington and I am dating George's grand daughter Kirstie. Her mom is Carrie Green and she talks of her father all the time I have yet to meet him but I would just to clear it up that George Green wrote i'm guessing at least 95% of the lyrics to this song and also several other of his top songs. Green is very undercredited and I wish Mellencamp wouldn't take FULL credit for writing this song as all he probably did was change a few words to it. I have also met Nick once i beleive so this people are telling the truth and some people just need to keep their mouth shut on this subject because if anyone knows the whole truth it is Nick and Sarah.
Will from Waterloo,Just makes me so angry to think of how much land is just sitting empty with empty subdivision or "cookie cutter" houses because no one has the money to afford them nor keep them when they could be torn down and the land given back to the farmers to actually grow something. I live near St. Louis and we have got a LOT of city transplants (now I'm all for urbanization, but leave the farms out of it.). I've seen the effects of it too. I remember the day when the freight train that ran straight through town stopped running, the day they tore the milk and bottling plant down (I still find old bottles and memorbilia in flea markets around here), and recently when my family sold part of the land off and what happens: gas station. (Part of my family's land in another part of the city also sits on what is now a video store, an Autozone, a movie theatre, a restaurant, an Arby's, and a mechanic's garage. All that remains unchanged is the original barn and farm house there. The land where my grandparents' farm has the original red barn and the shingle-siding farmhouse where they raised NINE kids and is still in its original condition...OH WAIT! except for the BIG FREAKIN' ROAD that cuts through a portion of the fields). I saw John last year at a Farm-Aid concert in St. Charles, MO and in concert for my birthday the same day.
Elaine from East Hartford, CtI would love to see him in concert! No one writes songs like this anymore. and Sarah, I'm very eager to look up your dad's other songs.
I do tend to believe you girl. Songwriters are very seldom creditted for their great works. Neither are drummers. Who's the drummer for this song? He rocks, whomever he/she is.
Besides the great beat and terrific words, the reason I love this one song is that it hits very close to home for me.
We're from Connecticut originally and while most people think nothing but rich people and insurance co. inhabit the state of CT nothing could be more wrong. Our state was once considered a very bucolic state, in other words beautiful cuz it was covered with forests and farms, especially EAST of the river. I'm talking the CT river of course.
But west of the river is another story.. All the rich people live on that side of the state, lol.. The farmers, most of them were from the eastern side of the state and I saw them desecrate and tear down ALL the farms next to our street. Yes, we lived right next to a farm, it was wonderful... and next to that was a horse farm, one my own best friend had boarded her horse at.
She had the horse there for years, but they had to sell the farm and boarded the poor horse somewhere where she got sick and ended up dying. I've never seen my friend cry before that day, but when I came over to hang out, she was in tears, from her beloved horse dying!
For years, I would not even LOOK at the former horse farm they sold to make a development.. one in which every darn house looked the same as the next one! :( It infuriated me to think what they did to my town, and all this hits very close to home for me, this song.... Don't know if they HAD to sell their farm, but I no longer wanted to live in my own hometown after they sold off all the farms and turned them into shopping centers and expensive housing development. Progress stinks! And that's the sad part of America, used to be that most people made their living off a farm. Now we are stuck being cogs in a wheel in a corporate structure who does not give a tinker's darn for us.
I so miss the farms we had as a kid when I was growing up. It was a wonderful childhood to go out and see the cows & the horses and be able to just walk up to the vegetable stand, only 5 minutes from our house, which the farmer operated every summer. A neat place to grow up! Well JCM, my hat's off to you. You've created a beautiful poignant song with the lyrics by George Greene and your great band. An excellent musician you are! Wish there were more like you out there today! Later for all this technology. I'd throw my computer, my cell phone and ipod out the bloody window if I could just trade them all for the great countryside we once got to enjoy.
Nicholas from Seymour, InHello, my name is Nick and I am George Greens son and of course Sarahs brother. My father has written for many large names and is probably the greatest song writer ever. He goes mainly unheard of, but to the artists who need hits on the chart, they know who to call. A true poet and great man. I think that Angela from TX needs to read more and type less.
Tammy from Atlanta, GaRegardless of who actually wrote the song, it is a great song that brings tears to the eyes of anyone with a heart! As Americans, we came together and helped after Hurricane Katrina and other disasters; to think that all of us, Americans and many other countries depend so greatly on these farms in the midwest....NO ONE should lose their farms!
Denise from Lapuente, Caone of his best songs
Ryan from Eaton, InSongs are listed by performer, not writer. There are no writers credits on this website, so everyone needs to just relax. Whether George Green is credited as a writer on a website discussing songs has absolutely no impact on his actual song-writing credit, or his royalties recieved for said credit. Take a look at the Queen or Rush sections, or even The Beatles...all songs are listed as "Song title" by [Artist], not specifically "Song Title" by [Freddie Mercury], or [lyrics by Peart, music by Lee, Lifeson], or [Lennon/McCartney]. This site is supposed to for exploring the meanings of songs, not making sure everyone knows a relative of someone-you-knows-neighbor wrote it.
Michael from New Albany, InMy only problem with this website is; Rain on the Scarecrow, was written by GEORGE M GREEN as well as JM.
I realize the above info states this as well. However, it should be listed that way.
In my opinion, George Green has never received enough credit for all the songs he has written.
I met George several years ago, used to go to his home in Bloomington and talk music. He was one of the nicest guys, I had ever met.
Michael, MCM, Indiana
Tim from Syracuse, NyIn my opinion this song is about MORE than the financial problems of farmers. It's about the corporatization of America and his feeling that much is being lost through modernization and other changes, and that the "little guy" is in danger of losing his rights and liberties.
Shawn from Sioux Falls, SdHi Sarah and Michael, I did a bit of research since I don't know either of you. Yep everyone, George Green is in fact listed as the writer of the Song. Most song writers write stuff with someone else, as I can speak from personal experience.
So Sara, since Mr. Green was your father, perhaps you know the answer to something on the song that perplexes me. Why "blood on the plow"? I've come up with my own explanations, but I'm wondering what it really means. I hate assuming. Rain is the lifeblood of the earth and the crops?
Anyway, it is a fantastic song! You should be very proud of your father. A very talented man!
Ari from Sheboygan, WiRafael from Sacramento said that "you have not lived until you've heard Scarecrow" under the conditions of a "private, invitation only" event for 500 people in an "intimate" setting in L.A. in the '90's.
Well, I heard it for the first time when it debuted in an outdoor stadium setting in Champaign/Urbana with a WHOLE LOT of displaced farmers at the first "Farm Aid"....I think I've lived, Rafael. ;)
Kent from Nashville, TnEverybody take a breath. John is very good at what he does, he deserves credit. But, since this lyric obviously has touched you, recognize and give credit to the actual writer, George M. Green. George is a brilliant writer and you would do yourself a favor to search for and read his other lyrics, recorded by many artists.
Dewey from Chillicothe, OhWhile I was in the service (USAF) John Cougar played 2 free concerts in my hometown of Chillicothe, OH (southern Ohio). Over 2/3 of the towns populations of 35,000 people signed a petition for him to play. I happened to be home on leave and was able to see him play for free! It was great! I have listened to John Cougar Mellencamp since the 70s. I think we all can relate to his lyrics.
Sarah from Bloomington, NeGo look at the Scarecrow album cover. Look for the name George Green. Don't mess with my fathers legacy...
Michael from Seymour, InI think sarah would know... her dad is the one who wrote the songs... George M. Green, my uncle is the one who wrote all of those songs mentioned... John Mellencamp would change a word or two, and say that he "co-wrote" the songs... I have the original notebooks that he wrote them in... he gave them to my grandmother, and she gave them to me when she passed away...
Rafael from Pasadena, CaI was fortunate enough to see him at the " El Rey " theater in Los Angeles in 1998 at a private intimate setting for invited guests. About 500 people.
You have not lived until you have heard Scarecrow under those conditions.
Angela from Lewisville, TxSarah needs to check her facts because John Mellencamp wrote those songs mentioned. He in fact writes almost all of his own songs.
Sarah from Bloomington, NeJohn Mellencamp did not write the lyrics to Rain on the Scarecrow. Nor did he write the lyrics to Hurt so Good, or Crumblin Down, or Human Wheels... Check your facts!!!
Larry from Newton, NcGive John Mellencamp credit. He has ALWAYS stayed true to his roots. He brought realization to the plight of many groups of people during his peak years. It would have been just as easy for him to have fallen in with the music biz crowd and just write standard rock 'n' roll but he didn't. He is a down-to-earth kind of person who really touches me deeply with so many of his masterful lyrics. Thank you, JM, for a lifetime of memories.
Eric from Milltown, InJohn is huge here in Southern Indiana and this is one of his biggest hits here.
Jolene from Melbourne, AustraliaThis song always gets me a little emotional having grown up in the country. Very poignant lyrics.