Top 20 Fools Songs
Fools have been popular song subjects as long as there have been songs. Even back when wandering minstrels would entertain royalty or accompany fearless knights heading off to war, half of the songs they knew were about fools. And more likely than not, it’s love that led to their foolish predicaments. Our list of the Top 20 Fools Songs includes plenty of tracks about fools in love. But some are just plain foolish — like the dude hanging out on a rainy street corner waiting for his girl … who’s patiently standing on another rainy street corner a couple blocks away. Pity the fools. (This list has two pages. Here’s the second.)
Scottish rockers the Frankie Miller Band originally recorded 'A Fool in Love' on their 1975 album 'The Rock.' UFO covered it a year later, adding chunkier guitars and replacing Miller's barroom brawl with arena-style riffing. Either way, the fool here -- really just a dude head over heels in love -- is tied to his woman's "beck and call."
This leftover track from the Cars' 1977 pre-debut demo eventually ended up on the 1995 compilation album 'Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology.' Benjamin Orr sings lead on Ric Ocasek's song, a perfect blend of New Wave and classic rock about your average love-struck fool. At least he's got the whole cool thing going for him.
The year before they released their breakthrough 'Machine Head' album (the one with 'Smoke on the Water'), Deep Purple put out the somewhat lumbering 'Fireball.' The eight-minute 'Fools' runs down a list of the world's fools, including the laughing and killing kinds. But we still love that album cover, which features the band members shooting through space like a long-haired, and possibly shirtless, supernova.
This isn't the only 'Ship of Fools' on our list of the Top 20 Fools Songs. It isn't Robert Plant's only appearance either. This 'Ship of Fools' is a serene ballad that totally fits the title of the album it comes from, 'Now and Zen.' It was also released as a single, reaching No. 84 on the pop chart and No. 3 on the rock one. Plant captains this ship of fools, driven mad by -- what else? -- his love for a woman.
The title track from John Mellencamp's breakthrough album (released when he was still John Cougar) was left off of 'American Fool' when it was released in 1982. When the album was reissued in 2005, it was finally issued as a bonus track. It's a breezy tune (complete with an island-style rhythm) that perfectly fits the narrator's flag-waving foolishness.
This bluesy cut (not to be confused with Robert Plant's 'Ship of Fools' on our list of the Top 20 Fools Songs) closes the Dead's seventh album with appropriate open-seas drifting. The song basically plays on the allegorical theme of the ship of fools, as Jerry Garcia and his band of wanderers set adrift with no clear course or leader.
Whitesnake had been around for a decade when they finally hit it big with their self-titled 1987 album. So they went back and rerecorded some of their older songs for their new multi-platinum albums, including 'Fool for Your Loving,' which originally showed up on their third LP, 1980's 'Ready an' Willing.' We prefer this earlier version, which sounds closer to frontman David Coverdale's old band Deep Purple than to 1989's Top 40 crossover. Either way, the fool's got it bad for some woman.
Unlike many of the other fools in love on our Top 20 list, Petty's not too happy about what's going down in this seething song from his debut album. He receives threatening phone calls, does some math and figures his relationship probably won't be lasting too much longer. No surprise that he's talking about getting out as the song fades.
The opening title track from the British band's fifth album (the one with 'Slow Ride') throws a twist on the whole fool-for-your-love thing. There's love here, all right, but it's not for a woman; it's for city life. "Air pollution, here I come," exclaims Lonesome Dave Peverett, with arms, and presumably lungs, wide open.
Tommy Shaw wrote 'Fooling Yourself' about Dennis DeYoung, who was growing increasingly uncomfortable with Styx's fame in light of 'Lady''s Top 10 showing. The song is basically a pep talk wrapped in squiggly synthesizer solos and flip-flopping time signatures. It temporarily kept DeYoung in place, but he left the band seven years later.