Labeling John Mellencamp's "On The Rural Route 7609" a box set would be a misnomer on several levels. In format, it is much more akin to a lavish book and is in fact, not packaged in a box. With 54 songs, 17 of which are previously unreleased on any Mellencamp CD, on 4 discs, the set is thoroughly annotated by award-winning music journalist/historian Anthony DeCurtis. Also included within its 72 pages are numerous evocative photos reflecting Mellencamp's transformation from pop idol to his current status as transcendent singer/writer whose work is celebrated, sometimes as a painfully honest musical reflection of hard scrabble midwestern values. Mellencamp songs from all phases of that career are included as are special guest readings by Academy Award wining actress Joanne Woodward as well as from Dr. Cornel West, best selling author, lecturer and commentator.
Unlike standard issue box sets, "On The Rural Route 7609" is not a collection of hits and near-hits in chronological order. Rather, each of the discs is programmed as if it were a free-standing album with shared themes and a sense of flow that offers one a compelling context to listen from start to finish versus defaulting to searching for the most familiar tracks. While there is certainly a wealth of well-known material, a significant number of tracks are offered that, while less familiar, are equally significant in terms of providing an in-depth picture of the Mellencamp's spectrum of creativity. Those tracks juxtaposed to signature songs long-associated with Mellencamp on the four "albums" in the set give long-term Mellencamp fans and newer listers alike, a more complete and insightful view of the artist's role as a writer and artist whose catalog of songs and recordings glow with substance and nuance.
"On The Rural Route 7609" is a musical journey that sheds new light on an American musician who, as both a songwriter and and social activist. Mellencamp found his true voice as he followed his heart and mind over the course of a career that, after an improbable start, has spanned four decades and is reflected in the selections heard "On The Rural Route 7609". "On The Rural Route 7609" is a singular way to discover John Mellencamp again.. arguably, for the first time.