20 Songs About Fools

Juli Thanki | April 1st, 2009

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.

  • Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies 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.
  • George Jones - Mr. Fool 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.
  • Hasil Adkins - Moon Over Madison 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.
  • Paul Burch - Fool For Love 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.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis - Last Man Standing 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.
  • Heather Myles - Just Like Old Times 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.
  • Joe Ely - The Best of Joe Ely 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.
  • Reba McEntire - Reba 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.
  • George Strait - Strait From The Heart 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.
  • Robbie Fulks - Smash Mouth 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.
  • Patty Loveless - Mountain Soul 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.
  • Neko Case - Blacklisted 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.
  • Sierra Hull - Secrets 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.
  • Lee Roy Parnell - Love Without Mercy 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.”
  • Dwight Yoakam - This Time 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.
  • Del McCoury Band - Moneyland 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.
  • Lee Ann Womack - The Fool 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.
  • Porter Wagoner - Wagonmaster 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.
  • Jimmy Rodgers Last Blue Yodel 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.
  • Hank Snow - Super Hits 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.

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  1. Chris
    April 1, 2009 at 11:12 am

    How about an honorable mention for “Fools”, the duet by Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius? Great song!

  2. northtexas
    April 1, 2009 at 11:25 am

    “Poor Little Fool” – Rick Nelson
    “Fool #1″ – Brenda Lee

  3. Andrew
    April 1, 2009 at 11:31 am

    List is useless without “Some Fools Never Learn.”

  4. Sam G
    April 1, 2009 at 11:42 am

    John Rich’s “Everybody Wants To Be Me” should have gotten some consideration.

  5. Helen
    April 1, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Thank you Andrew! I was just about to add that Steve Warnier classic!

  6. Michael
    April 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Ricky Van Shelton – Statue of a Fool

  7. Michael
    April 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Also, Kenny Rogers & Dottie West’s “Every Time Two Fools Collide”

  8. Juli
    April 1, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    We were choosing from a list of at least 150 “fool” songs, so this theme might reappear yearly for the next half-decade or so…

  9. Brady Vercher
    April 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Before y’all get off calling the list useless, it’s simply 20 songs about fools; it’d be foolish if we said this was definitive. Use it as a means of discovering songs you may not have heard.

    If I were compiling the list, mine would surely look different, but I gotta give Juli props for being able to winnow it down to just 20 because we had over 100 in contention. Feel free to jump in and make suggestions, though.

  10. Brady Vercher
    April 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Michael: “Ricky Van Shelton – Statue of a Fool

    Check out the Jack Greene version, none of the others compare.

  11. Jon
    April 1, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Yeah, and you can still hear Jack sing it about as well as ever othe Opry. Nice to see my buddy Charley Stefl’s “The Fool” make the list; would have been nice to see “Arms Of A Fool” make it, too.

  12. Leeann Ward
    April 1, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Fun!

  13. Baron Lane
    April 1, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Great list Juli.

  14. Stephanie
    April 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Fun list. makes an interesting playlist too. Speaking of fools and being/being made one: Anyone been pranked today?

  15. Juli
    April 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Stephanie, Baron almost had me going with his most recent blurb on Twang Nation…I’d pay cash money to hear that particular duet. Or at least be a fly on the wall when they meet.

  16. Michael
    April 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation, Brady. I knew it was a remake so I’ll definitely check out Jack Greene’s version. And thank you, Juli, for compiling the list. Good job narrowing it down from the surprisingly (to me anyway) large number of “fool” songs. I was just adding other ones that came to mind because I thought it would be fun. Hmmmm… Travis Tritt – “Foolish Pride”

    Also, I’ve already had a couple of attempted pranks this morning. Key word: Attempted. :) Have a great day everyone!

  17. Drew
    April 1, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I love that Snow song, glad to see it topping the list.

  18. Paul W Dennis
    April 1, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    “Fools”, the duet by Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius was a remake of an earlier (and superior version) by Johnny Duncan, a fine singer who was a cousin of Dan Seals

  19. Rick
    April 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I prefer Ricky van Shelton’s cover of “Statue of a Fool” over the Jack Greene original by quite a margin. (Although if Jack were singing it as a duet with Candi Carpenter he would score major brownie points.) I wonder if Hank Locklin ever covered that song as his voice would suit it perfectly? Hmmm…

    I’d like to add the recent song “What a Fool Am I” from Kimber Sparks to the list. And since I’m talking Aussie releases I’ll also mention Adam Harvey’s “Two-Steppin Fool”. I doubt if those two songs made the original list that got winnowed down to Juli’s Top 20.

  20. Steve Harvey
    April 1, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    What about Act Naturally? You know, ‘the biggest fool who ever hit the big time’…

    And I’m with Rick on the Adam Harvey track…

  21. Chris
    April 2, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Paul,

    Thanks for the information on the Johnny Duncan version of “Fools”. I LOVE Johnny Duncan. The song wasn’t on any of the compilations I have of him, so I just ordered a CD from Amazon. Can’t wait to hear it.

    Also, 9513 staff, please don’t take offense to the suggestion I (and others) made. I know there are a lot of “Fool” songs and thought offereing suggestions was in the spirit of the site. For example, I had totally forgotten Steve Wariner’s song “Some Fools Never Learn”. Another great song!

    I love lists like this. Keep up the good work.

  22. BRAD
    April 2, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Great list, Juli…makes me want to track down the ones I haven’t heard yet. Love your choice for #1. The Hank Snow version is awesome, but the Elvis and Dylan version ain’t too shabby either. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Jim Reeves did a version as well.

  23. BRAD
    April 2, 2009 at 8:24 am

    <> That of course should say “versions” — they never recorded together! Maybe they could make one of those god-awful fake duets like the recent Elvis Christmas album…

  24. Brady Vercher
    April 2, 2009 at 8:29 am

    No offense taken on the suggestions Chris (at least I don’t think so). We completely encourage you to participate and make suggestions of your own, I just didn’t like someone calling the list useless when I know how much time goes into these things.

  25. Juli
    April 2, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Chris, no offense taken here, either. Suggestions are always welcome (thanks for the Adam Harvey rec, Rick and Steve!). I was just trying to make clear the giant list of potential songs we were choosing from, so of course there’s going to be some favorites that get neglected. What I’m trying to do is create a balance between the classic/best songs of a certain theme while also introducing a few lesser-known artists from across the country music spectrum.

  26. Erik
    April 2, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Dolly’s 1980 album “Dolly Dolly Dolly” had three songs with the word “fool” in the title:

    “Same Old Fool”
    “Fool For Your Love”
    “Even A Fool Would Let Go”

    That last one is a real stunner.

  27. Erik
    April 2, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Oh, and you should really have included the Trisha song “Fools Like Me” on this list. It’s one of my favorites.

  28. Razor X
    April 2, 2009 at 11:11 am

    I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned Rodney Crowell’s “Victim or a Fool”.

  29. luckyoldsun
    April 4, 2009 at 1:18 am

    How can you leave out the definitive song for the category: “Fool, Fool, Fool” by the great Webb Pierce?

    I can also throw in “Coolest Fool In Town” by Joe Diffie, for its cool title and “I May Be A Fool” by the great throwback Mark Chesnutt.

  30. luckyoldsun
    April 4, 2009 at 1:25 am

    I have to give a mention to “I’m a Fool to Want You” and “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)” by Frank Sinatra and the classic fooll song of all time “What Kind of Fool Am I” by Tony Newley and Sammy Davis Jr., among others.
    I don’t know of any country versions of these, but I’ll bet there were.

  31. Paul W Dennis
    April 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

    George Atrit had a #1 in 1988 with “Famous Last Words Of A Fool”, Rhonda Vincewnt has a neat album track titled “World’s Biggest Fool” and Lee Ann Noel has an album cut she wrote titled “If You’re Looking For A Fool”

  32. Paul W Dennis
    April 4, 2009 at 9:19 am

    That should read George Strait had a #1 in 1988 with “Famous Last Words Of A Fool”,

  33. Jon
    April 4, 2009 at 9:31 am

    …and Rhonda Vincent ;-).

    Thanks for the last one on that list, Paul – it finally dislodged a song I’d been trying to remember for a couple of days: “I Know One” (“If you need a fool who loves you…”). One of Cowboy’s best, and if you only know it through Garth Brooks (not that there’s anything wrong with that), you really need to hear Charley Pride’s original recording.

  34. Jon
    April 4, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Whoops, I see that Jim Reeves had a hit on “I Know One” years before Charley.

  35. Me
    April 4, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Come on guys no What A Fool Believes its cheesy but it really is a great song. If you didnt feel comfortable you couldve at least put the Self verison.

  36. Paula_W
    April 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I know it’s already been commented on, but how in the world is Jack Greene’s “Statue of A Fool” not on this list? :-(

    I was priviledged to see/hear him perform that song last week during Tin Pan. What a treat!!

  37. Misery
    April 18, 2009 at 11:46 am

    You missed out Billy Joe Shaver’s ‘There’s no fool like and old fool’…

    You don’t get more foolish than Billy Joe in that song!

  38. Dr BLT
    May 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Great concept for an article. I’d also recommend a list of 20 songs about barroom brawls–like this one:

    Tipsy Toes
    Dr BLT
    words and music by Dr BLT copyright 2009
    http://www.drblt.net/music/tipsy_toes_rmd2.mp3

  39. Cliff England
    May 5, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Famous Last Word of a Fool – George Strait
    Foolish Pride – Travis Tritt

    tell me those don’t belong?

  40. Cliff England
    May 5, 2009 at 1:39 am

    ohh and one more Kris Kristofferson – The Bigger the Fool, the Harder The Fall

  41. t.scott
    April 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    another “Killer” song

    What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made a Fool Out of Me)

  42. Wade
    April 3, 2010 at 11:49 am

    When I heard “Fool Like Me” in 2007, it blew me away…a true master

  43. Bethan
    June 25, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Fool on the hill – Beatles

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