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April’s Foolish Pleasures

April 1, 2019

        Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day, so here are some suggestions for music that fits the occasion:

        There are actually a few songs called “April Fools” or something similar. Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick did “The April Fools,” the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune from the movie of the same name, as did a number of other artists, including Respectable Groove.

        If you want to go even more MOR, there are lots of April songs. Everybody from Pat Boone to Johnny Mathis to Roger Williams did “April Love,” there are many versions of “April in Paris” — Louis Armstrong to Sinatra — and “I’ll Remember April” got worked over pretty well, too.

        Alternative rock band Soul Asylum did “April Fool” on their 1992 album Grave Dancer’s Union. There are also two different songs by country artists called “April’s Fool,” one by Mark Chestnutt and the other by Ray Price.

        There don’t seem to be many other April songs from the rock genre. “Pieces of April” is an obvious choice, but it’s probably been the theme for too many Junior Proms. “April Come She Will” by Simon and Garfunkel is another; although it’s seemingly about the seasons, Paul Simon’s inspiration was a girl, so maybe that was her name.

        I had a feeling that some songwriter somewhere must have used the opening lines of poet T.S. Eliot’s classic “The Waste Land,” “April is the cruelest month.” And, I was right, there are two: one by the Airborne Toxic Event, and the other by Rob Scallon. Never heard of either act/artist, and don’t know if either did justice to one of my favorite pieces of literature.

        You could also taste a little flavor of the incoming month by listening to April Wine. The Canadian rock band had a couple Top 40 U.S. hits in the 1970s, and recorded the first Canadian platinum album in 1975.

        Or put on some April Stevens. Well, not much of it, because she only recorded 10 singles. And her name wasn’t really April, but Carol LoTempio. She also had a No. 1 hit in 1963, “Deep Purple,” with her brother — who was performing as Nino Tempo, not Antonino LoTempio.

        Plenty of foolin’ around to cover the other part of the day’s name. My preference would be for the less obvious, such as Supertramp’s “Fool’s Overture” or “More Fool Me” by Genesis.

        I really like “Heaven Help the Fool” by Bob Weir, although I can’t speak for the rest of the album of the same name. I’m a Joe Jackson fan, but I’ve never heard his “Fools in Love.”

        “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I” is a classic, and you can take your pick: the Hank Snow or Willie Nelson country versions, Elvis Presley’s 1959 No. 2 or, if you can find the bootleg, Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes cover. Ditto for “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers; if you want a surf music version, the Beach Boys covered it.

        A “Fool’s Paradise” would be great place to be on April 1, and you can choose between several different songs by that name, and one or more covers of several of those: Sam Cooke was one of three artists who covered the first of those, written by Johnny Fuller in 1955.

        Early rockabilly star Eddie Cochran wrote a song by the same name the following year, and Buddy Holly followed suit in 1958. And there are four other, later songs with the same title, all by artists who are unfamiliar to me.

        Back in that era, Ray Charles wrote and performed a song entitled “A Fool for You,” which was covered by four major artists: Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Van Morrison and Michael Jackson. None are to be confused with “Fool for You,” a cut off the Impressions’ 1968 album written by soul legend Curtis Mayfield.

        It’s likely that “Fools Rush In” on the first of April, and plenty of artists rushed in to record the Johnny Mercer/Rube Bloom 1940s chestnut, starting with Ole Blue Eyes. The Four Freshmen and Brook Benton did it in the early days of rock and pop, but Ricky Nelson had the biggest hit with it, a No. 12 in 1963. (Ricky had done even better with “Poor Little Fool,” a No. 1 in 1958.)

        Elvis followed Nelson’s lead in 1972, but didn’t release his version of “Fools Rush In” as a single, so you’ll have to get it off the album Elvis Now. (The King of Rock and Roll had had mixed success with two other “fool” songs, besides this and “A Fool Such as I”: “Fool” was an Adult Contemporary No. 12,  but “Fools Fall in Love” didn’t make it into the Hot 100.)

        The fools might rush in on a “Ship of Fools,” the 1988 solo effort by Led Zepp lead singer Robert Plant; World Party had had their only Top 40 hit two years earlier with a song of the same name. Foghat didn’t quite get there with “Fool for the City” in 1976, although the album that included that song went platinum.

        If you want something more current, you could go with 1998’s “No Fool No More” by En Vogue. Or “A Fool for Love,” the song ex-Roxy Music lead vocalist Bryan Ferry wrote for his 2002 album Frantic.

        Whatever your musical April Foolish pleasures turn out to be, remember what April showers bring. And there are plenty of inspirations to be found in May flowers.

 

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