He signed to Riva Records[?] to release 1978's A Biography[?] (see 1978 in music). His breakthrough album was American Fool[?] in 1982 (see 1982 in music). The songs "Hurt So Good" and "Jack and Diane" sent the album to the top of the charts. The follow-up, Uh-Huh[?], was just as successful. Mellencamp's critical success had always been lacking. He rectified this in some quarters with Scarecrow[?] in 1985 (1985 in music). Scarecrows lyrics were socially aware, and he soon helped organize Farm Aid[?] with Willie Nelson. He also made waves by refusing to allow alcohol or tobacco companies to sponsor his tours.
1987's The Lonesome Jubilee[?] was departure from his earlier material; it incorporated country and folk influences (see 1987 in music). It generated several more singles, including "Paper in Fire" and "Cherry Bomb". By 1993's (1993 in music) Human Wheels[?], Mellencamp's critical reception was solid and Dance Naked[?] (1994 in music) spawned his biggest hit in years, "Wild Night" (a with Me'Shell NdegeOcello[?], cover of Van Morrison).
In 1999 Mellencamp covered his own tunes as well as those by Bob Dylan and the Drifters for his album "Rough Harvest[?]," one of two albums he owed Mercury Records[?] to fulfill his contract (the other was "The Best That I Could Do[?]", a best-of collection) (1999 in music).
2001 (2001 in music) found Mellencamp teaming up with artists such Chuck D and India.Arie[?] to deliver a more laid back record with "Cuttin' Heads[?]", spawning the single "Peaceful World". "Trouble No More[?]" followed in mid-2003 (2003 in music). , a quickly recorded collection of rootsy bluesy covers of artists such as Robert Joohnson[?] and Lucinda Williams[?].