31 Days of Faves: Chris Rea – Fool If You Think It’s Over

#14 Chris Rea – Fool If You Think It’s Over

The story of the unlikely success of Chris Rea‘s “Fool If You Think It’s Over” is the stuff of a novel about trial and redemption. He wrote it to comfort a younger sister who was going through her first break-up. He originally penned it with Al Green in mind. And it was initially a failure.

When the album “Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? ” was released in 1978, Fool was a non-starter in Rea’s UK home base. The LP had all the components that should have produced a winner, including Elton John’s storied producer Gus Dudgeon at the controls.

But the single languished. Rea himself envisioned it as a soul song and felt “hijacked”. But he trusted the gut of a pro who knew how to craft hits. When the tune didn’t take off at home, Rea remembered driving to his house in a snowstorm, wondering where the next mortgage payment was coming from. Detected and resigning himself to a return to his family’s restaurant business, he opened the front door to find an envelope on the floor from the day’s post. Inside was a royalty check for Fool.

Fool If You Think It’s Over” had become a hit in the US. It peaked in the Top 20 on the American pop charts and had a strong run at Number 1 on the Easy Listening survey.

That was enough to get the attention of the producers of Britain’s “Top of the Pops” television show. Rea was invited to perform the song there and, at long last, a UK fan base was born.

On the strength of what would become his only significant hit, Rea earned a Best New Artist  Grammy nomination in 1979.

Ten years later, Chris Rea would return to the studio to produce his own remake of the song, playing all of the instruments and spinning the dials on the mixing console himself. It’s a rare instance where the remake surpasses the original. It has all of the important pieces that made the first effort a hit. But you can tell that Chris has accepted it’s brilliance, adding the magic that only an artist at the peak of his powers can contribute.

This is the version I have in heavy rotation in the “What Keener Might Have Played” playlist. It’s another tune that I’ll stay in the car to listen to, until the final chorus fades.