20 Songs About Fools
The origins of April Fool’s Day are somewhat murky, with some historians dating its beginnings as far back as Chaucerian England. Wherever and whenever this holiday came from, one thing is certain: when it comes to fools, country music’s got ‘em covered. Foolish in love, life, and damn near everything else, a fool is one to be empathized with, even pitied. But every now and again, as in King Lear, it’s the Fool who provides the most insightful wisdom. Be prepared to see yourself in these songs, or at the very least, learn a little something.
- 20. “Poor Fool” – Justin Townes Earle
Earle sure seems like a good friend as he tries to get his brokenhearted buddy back out on the town. He then gives this little nugget of advice: “If you feel like crying just turn away until the feelings pass.” Well, at least his intentions are good.
- 19. “Mr. Fool” – George Jones
After getting his heart stomped on, the Possum finally realizes that she’s just not into him. Not one to wallow in self-pity, he looks at this broken relationship as a learning experience, because he’ll “never be the fool [he] was before.” We should all be so optimistic.
- 18. “A Fool In This Game” – Hasil Adkins
Hasil Adkins is probably best known for being a rockabilly eccentric who had a strange fascination with chicken. But he gets straight up country on “A Fool in This Game.” With its lazy sock and swing rhythm punctuated by Adkins’ plaintive howl, this song might just have been something Hank Williams would have recorded had he lived longer.
- 17. “Life of a Fool” – Paul Burch
Paul Burch makes being a fool sound really awful, what with spending your nights as “An end in the making/With a foot in the gutter/Giving in to the taking.” But if being a fool is the only way to hear excellent, proto-rockabilly songs such as this, it might be a sacrifice worth making.
- 16. “That Kind of Fool” – Jerry Lee Lewis
Nothing says “fool” (and “creep”) more than marrying your teenage cousin and then telling the British press about it on your first big international tour. But I digress. Here Lewis watches a supposed fool who willingly goes home to his wife sober every night. For a moment the Killer wishes himself capable of such behavior, but quickly realizes, “It’s not that Jerry Lee don’t love you/But there’s some things I just can’t do.” Say what you will about Lewis, but at least he’s honest.
- 15. “Make a Fool Out of Me” – Heather Myles
This honkytonk traditionalist is her no-nonsense self as she watches her husband take off with someone new, leaving her with a “worthless piece of paper.” But after listening to Myles sing about her beloved .38 in “Sweet Little Dangerous,” we’re thinking that her unscathed ex is the luckiest man alive.
- 14. “Fools Fall In Love” – Joe Ely
Texas country rocker Joe Ely knows better than to ask dumb questions like Frankie Lymon did. Here he simply states the facts: “Fools fall in love/Wise men, they fall too/Wise men hit the bottom/A fool just falls on through.” In the future, Ely plans to tackle other important issues such as why the rain falls from above and why birds sing so gay.
- 13. “New Fool at an Old Game” – Reba McEntire
Poor naïve Reba tries to learn the rules of love in this #1 pop-country hit from 1988. It’s still one of McEntire’s most popular songs, suggesting—to paraphrase P.T. Barnum—that there’s a new fool born every minute.
- 12. “Fool Hearted Memory” – George Strait
Released as a single in 1982, “Fool Hearted Memory” is the first in a long line of George Strait #1s. A man holds down a bar stool every night remembering the one that got away. The bottle and the jukebox only exacerbate the problem, providing the atmosphere for further self-delusion. We’re betting that more than a few fools have played this hit over and over on their bar’s jukebox over the past 27 years.
- 11. “What the Lord Hath Wrought (Any Fool Can Knock Down)” – Robbie Fulks
This modern-day Roger Miller can turn on a dime from absurd humor to absolute pathos. This one’s somewhere in between the two as Fulks details the many and varied reasons for a failed marriage. Fulks’ razor sharp lyrics, plus the nifty organ breakdown, make this a song worth hearing should “a backstreet love” or “pressure from accounts overdrawn” jumpstart your straying ways.
- 10. “The Richest Fool Alive” – Patty Loveless
In today’s economy, making profit of pain might be something worth looking into. “If heartaches were treasure and pain could be sold/If dreams were made of silver, promises of gold/Teardrops were diamonds measured in lies/I’d have a broken heart worth millions/And be the richest fool alive.” Although it’s probably a lot less emotionally taxing just to go find a breadline somewhere.
- 9. “Runnin’ Out of Fools” – Neko Case
Rage never sounded so pretty as when Case takes an ex-lover to task for his booty-calling ways on country noir album Blacklisted. Here she unleashes the full power of her amazing voice as she tells the guy on the other end of the phone, “Have yourself a dime’s worth of talking/Then I’m gonna hang right up on you.” Clearly Neko Case needs to start giving lessons on how to be so awesome.
- 8. “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” – Sierra Hull
This one’s probably best known as a Connie Francis hit (it went to #1 in 1960), but this child prodigy puts her own spin on a song whose sprightly mandolin picking belies heartbreaking lyrics such as, “I told myself it’s best that I forget you/Though I’m a fool at least I know the score/Darlin’ I’d be twice as blue without you/It hurts but I keep runnin’ back for more.” Listening to her sing, you’d never guess that Hull isn’t even old enough to buy a drink to drown her sorrows.
- 7. “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am” – Lee Roy Parnell
This 1992 single went all the way to #2, and is one of the Texas singer’s best known songs. And since Parnell’s one wife short of a WNBA starting lineup, we’re guessing he might know a thing or two about “throwing [his] good heart after bad love.”
- 6. “King of Fools” – Dwight Yoakam
Dwight Yoakam is the epitome of country cool, but all the coolness in the world can’t stop a man from getting his heart broken. This one wasn’t released as a single (it’s on seminal Yoakam album This Time) but it’s not a song to be passed by. Here poor Dwight imagines his girl still loves him, even as she leaves with another man. Ouch. But hey, a girl’s got needs, and getting into Dwight’s skintight pants circa 1993 would have probably required a crowbar and acetylene torch.
- 5. “40 Acres and a Fool” – Del McCoury Band
From 2008′s Moneyland comes the story of a rich cityslicker who decides to give the rural life a try–with necessities like mansions, Hummers, and Cancun vacations. Disaster ensues, and it’d be funny if it weren’t so true. With lyrics like, “He don’t need to borrow nothin’/He has one of every tool/Installed a laptop on his Bobcat/And drove it right into the pool,” it’s a rare person—regardless of geography—who doesn’t have an equivalent fool in his or her own life. Hint: if you don’t have one, it’s probably you.
- 4. “The Fool” – Lee Ann Womack
Philosopher Obi Wan Kenobi once said, “Who’s more foolish: the fool or the fool who follows him?” Womack addresses a similar issue in the song that shot her into country music stardom when it hit #2 on the charts in 1997. Here, the song’s narrator confronts the woman with whom her man is still infatuated. To anyone who’s ever been in a situation like this, hearing Womack sing, “You hold his heart in the palm of your hand/And it’s breaking mine in two/I’m the fool in love with the fool/Who’s still in love with you,” is like a taking a punch to the gut.
- 3. “A Fool Like Me” – Porter Wagoner
Years of experience don’t prevent one from acting a fool here as Porter pleads with his woman not to leave because she’ll “never find another fool like [him].” Most of the attention given to Wagonmaster focused on long-lost Johnny Cash song “Committed to Parkview,” so if this isn’t one you remember, be sure to give it another listen. Even in the midst of battling lung cancer, Wagoner could still whip out a fine country song with more skill than a man half his age.
- 2. “Jimmie Rodgers’ Last Blue Yodel (The Women Make A Fool Out Of Me)” – Jimmie Rodgers
After 12 other “Blue Yodels” the tubercular brakeman wraps up the series with “Last Blue Yodel,” recorded merely days before his 1933 death. In the first “Blue Yodel,” Rodgers proclaimed that he could “get more women than a passenger train can haul.” Six years later, nothing has changed as he sings, “My papa scolded me, my mama set and cried/That I had too many women for any little boy my size.” For a guy who probably spent a lot of time coughing up lungfuls of blood, Rodgers sure got around, it seems. The women may make a fool out of him, but think of poor Thelma who was shot “just to see her jump and fall.” Seems like being made a fool of is getting off easy.
- 1. “(Now And Then, There’s) A Fool Such As I” – Hank Snow
“Pardon me if I’m sentimental when we say goodbye/Don’t be angry with me should I cry.” Such begins one of country music’s saddest songs. Written by Bill Trader, “A Fool Such As I” has been recorded by Jim Reeves, Peabo Bryson, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and countless others, but no one’s version is as good as Snow’s, whose voice makes you feel every painful word of the lyric. Damn near every country song about fools in love is just rehashing this one.