I Pity the Fool

Don't know about you, but I sometimes think I've spent my life two steps from the blues. I’m still trying to stay one step ahead of them, though I’m never quite sure if they’re behind me or ahead of me. Far as I know, they could be waiting just up ahead around the bend in the road. For sure, no matter how fast you walk, you can’t ever outrun the blues. Best you can hope to do is sing them away.

Being raised in a white middle class neighborhood, I’m sure I was introduced to the blues by white singers who “covered” black singles with their own hits. My favorite of these is “Hound Dog,” and it is still one of my all-time-favorite songs despite later discovering Big Mama Thornton’s version.

However, when I heard Bobby Blue Bland sing “I Pity the Fool” on The Dick Clark Show, I was immediately converted to a true blues fan forever. While my high school friends were listening to Elvis Presley,The Everly Brothers, Brenda Lee, Bobby Rydell, and Connie Francis, I was hunting down blues classics, starting with Bobby Blue Bland recordings.

By now my copy of Two Steps from the Blues is so worn, as the cover above probaly attests to, that I have to find copies of the songs on best-of CD’s that I’ve bought in recent years. But that album somehow got me through two disappointing “loves” in high school, a “dear loren” letter on my way to Vietnam, and a divorce.

In retrospect, when you look at the lyrics of “I Pity The Fool”

I pity the fool
I say I pity the fool
Whoa, I pity the fool,
Yeah.
I say, I pity the Fool
That falls in love with you
And expects you to be true
Oh, I pity the Fool.
Look at the people
I know you wonder what they’re doing
They just standing there
Watching you make a fool of me.
Look at the people
I know you wonder what they’re doing
They just standing there
Watching you make a fool of me.
Oh, I pity the fool
I pity the fool that falls in love with you
Oh, I pity the fool
I pity the fool that falls in love with you
She’ll break your heart one day
Then she’ll laugh and walk away
Oh, I pity the fool.
Look at the people
I know you wonder what they’re doing
They just standing there
Watching you make a fool of me.
Look at the people
I know you wonder what they’re doing
Yeah, they just standing there
Watching you make a fool of me.
Oh, I pity the fool
I say I pity the fool
Oh, I pity the fool
I say I pity the fool, baby.

there doesn’t seem to be much there. But combined with the driving arrangements of Joe Scott and the powerful voice of Bobby, “I Pity the Fool” will flat blow away your blues, if only for two minutes and 42 seconds. (You can find sound samples for the album’s reissue on Amazon.com) For me, at least, there’s enough irony, and insight, in the lyrics to help distance you from your sorrow. When listened in combination with the album’s blues ballads “Two Steps from the Blues,” “Cry, Cry, Cry,” and “I Just Got to Forget You,” you can almost imagine that you’re going to make it after all, at least until the next time you fall in love.

I’ve been buying Bobby Bland albums wherever I can find them for the last forty years, even replacing older albums with new CD’s. I’ve never been disappointed by one of his albums, pehaps because "I Pity the Fool" has been such a large part of my life.

A search on the web shows that others have been rediscovering Bland’s talents, as seen in this article in Salon: Bobby Bland

What do you think?