John Mellencamp nails his hits, plays some other songs, at the Louisville Palace [Music]

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John Mellencamp at the Louisville Palace

Back in college I was so blown away by John Mellencamp's greatest hits compilation, The Best That I Could Do, that I sold my CD back to the record store and put the proceeds towards two of his regular releases, American Fool and Scarecrow, with plans for celebrating the man's entire catalog as income allowed.

A short while later I was again at the CD store, this time selling back those two CDs and using the money to rebuy the hits package.

Just another lesson from college that didn't have anything to do with my classes: Mellencamp's hits are among rock's finest songs; his other material is largely unremarkable though. Not to sound like Rand Paul, but with regards to deciding which Mellencamp songs are best, the market has won out.

That theory proved true again last night at the Mellencamp's almost sold-out show at the Louisville Palace: the hits, often played in a stripped down, more mature style than the original album cuts, resonated. Many of the other songs though didn't, not due to the performance than because of the song itself.

Mellencamp and his six-member band came on stage to Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down," a trance-like meditation in which Cash is accompanied by stomps, claps and light guitar picking, that set the mood for the concert and seems like a heavy influence on a lot of Mellencamp's recent work.

A pared back "Authority Song," kicked off the show, the first of nine songs from the aforementioned 1997 hits package. While recognizable, many of the classics were stripped down considerably from their original versions. The reworkings were usually both brilliant and necessary: a thrice-divorced 60-year-old can't sing about fighting The Man in the same manner he did when he was 21 and not sound ridiculous.

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