Thursday, October 12, 2006

Top 300 Favorite Songs of All Time II: Fool in Love (Ike Turner)

I was talking about love and relationships a couple of days ago — in fact, I was explaining something about Yobo — and I quoted the chorus of Ike and Tina Turner’s astounding song Fool in Love:
You take the good along with the bad, Sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re sad.
It reminded me that Fool in Love is one of my Top 300 Favorite Songs.

Here’s another song, like Love Potion #9, that has an unsurpassable, even inimitable, opening: Without any warning, like a volcanic eruption, Tina Turner shouts “There’s something on my mind. Won’t somebody please, please tell me what’s wrong?” And with four perfectly placed intro chords, the band starts playing and in close, gospel-inspired harmony, The Ikettes sing
You’re just a fool, you know you’re in love.
You’ve got to face it to live in this world.
You take the good along with the bad,
Sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re sad.
You know you love him, you can’t understand
Why he treats you like he do when he’s such a good man.
The Ikettes, having explained exactly what the situation is, step back and Tina returns to the mic for the first verse. In her take-no-prisoners style, Tina explains how dire her straits are and I suspect that her audience understands that she’s talking about something more serious than being made to wear white flannel after Labor Day or not being allowed to use the right fork.
He’s got me smiling when I should be ashamed,
Got me laughing when my heart is in pain.
Whoa now, I must be a fool,
But I'll do anything he wants me to. Now, how come?
Back come the Ikettes to reiterate that she’s just a fool, and Tina has two more verses to explain that she knows she is a fool, but she loves her man so much that she can’t leave him, no matter what.
Without my man I don’t want to live.
You think I’m lying but I’m telling you like it is.
He’s got my nose open and that’s no lie,
And I, I’m gonna keep him satisfied. Now, how come?

Ways of actions speaks louder than words —
The truest thing that I ever heard.
I trust the man and all that he do,
And I, and I’ll do anything he wants me to do. Now, how come?
There are two things that I love about Fool in Love and that are a big part of making it one of my Top 300 Favorite Songs. The first is that Tina Turner’s delivery is completely at odds with what she’s singing. She doesn’t sound the least bit confused or perplexed, or in need of advice. Her powerful voice doesn’t convey any sort of weakness on the part of its owner. The second is that the Ikettes don’t second Tina’s supposed confusion. The words of the chorus chide, lecture, and advise. They rebuke the naive woman who doesn’t know about love or even how to live in this world. Most times the backup singers ratify the lead singer. Not here. Tina’s delivery and the words of the chorus provide the tension that keeps the song interesting no matter how many times you hear it.

A good cover of Fool in Love is by Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli, and LouAnn Barton on Dreams Come True. Notice that it takes three lead singers to replace one Tina Turner. Nevertheless, they do a good job of delivering a solid version of the classic original.
I don’t remember exactly when I heard Fool in Love for the first time, but it was probably on Valaja Bumbulis’s show on KARL-AM, Carleton College’s student-run carrier current radio station. Valaja (a/k/a Linda Stephani) was a dedicated Ike & Tina Turner fan in the late 1960s, so even though I was born and grew up in New York City, I didn’t hear Tina Turner until I went to Northfield, Minnesota, hardly a hotbed of R&B outside the Carleton campus. But once I’d heard Tina Turner I became a fan, and was happy to see her subsequent success, especially once she ditched Ike. Valaja was definitely onto something.

I plan to write about other of my Top 300 Favorite Songs, including Mahler’s Knaben Wunderhorn song Saint Anthony’s Sermon to the Fishes, Marshall Crenshaw’s Some Day, Some Way, Graham Parson’s Luxury Liner and Wheels, Candi Staton’s Victim, and Let It Be from the Mad Dogs and Englishmen concert album, so keep an eye out for those.

1 comment:

Linda said...

So what's all this about Valaja Bumbulis? how remarkable. I was at Carleton in the 1960's - Ike & Tina Turner, KARL - Linda Stephani was a friend of mine. I was the other Linda (Morrison)......and I also had a radio show. Canned Heat, Patrick Sky, Muddy Waters - Leo Kottke at the Triangle Bar? those were the days.
please tell her I called.