Lesley Gore

She's a Fool

Composed by Ben Raleigh / Mark Barkan

Song Review by

When "She's a Fool" made number five in late 1963, it was a vitally important accomplishment for Lesley Gore's career, as she was in danger of being typecast for just one song or type of song. "It's My Party" had been a number one hit earlier that year, and "Judy's Turn to Cry" was a somewhat contrived soundalike follow-up whose lyrics were a direct sequel to "It's My Party." "She's a Fool" had nothing to do, melodically or lyrically, with either single. Maybe that sounds like a trivial feat given the light respect Gore is given by most critics, but, in fact, "She's a Fool" was quite a good girl-group single, and one that cemented Gore's skill with a lyric in which she took the role of the wronged devoted female. "She's a Fool" had a light jazzy swing, in keeping with several of Gore's early tracks (probably due in no small part to Quincy Jones' production), and a pretty mean bluesy piano, as heard in the opening instrumental section. The melody was catchy and imbued with a sense of longing hurt, amplified by the two sturdy handclaps which followed each of the first pair of lines of the verses. The vocals, melodic hook, and sweeping strings became far more decisive and emphatic in the chorus, embellished by dramatic female backup vocals of the kind that would be considered hokey within just a year or two, but were quite effective in this context. Far more bizarre were the low, grumbled responsive male vocals that followed Gore's declaration of "she's a fool"; it sounded as if they were singing "tractor fool" or something like that. You'd be surprised by just how many '60s rock songs used an upward key change for the last verse, and "She's a Fool" does so without missing a beat. The anguish of the storyline -- the guy she likes is in thrall to a woman who doesn't know what she has and treats him cruel, and if only he'd realize how well Lesley would treat him -- goes into overdrive for the final chorus, which takes it up yet another key as Gore draws out the words in the title phrase on the fadeout. In many respects, "She's a Fool" bears hallmarks of 1963 pop/rock elements that would become corny and dated within only a year -- the melodramatic backup vocals, the abject devotion of the female singer, the flourishes of the tympani at certain points to add tension. Within the limitations of its era and genre, though, "She's a Fool" was quite a good single.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts 1963 Mercury Records / Universal 2:07
Boys, Boys, Boys 1964 Ace 2:10
The Golden Hits of Lesley Gore 1965 Island / Island Mercury / Mercury 2:12
No Image 1986 Rhino
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: 1963 - Still Rockin' 1989
Various Artists
Back to the '60s, Vol. 3 1993
Various Artists
K-Tel 1:56
No Image 1994
Various Artists
It's My Party! 1994 Bear Family Records 2:11
It's My Party: The Mercury Anthology 1996 Island/Def Jam 2:12
Start the Party Again 1997 Raven 2:12
Rockfile, Vol. 10 1997
Various Artists
Rockfile 2:09
1960's Rock N Roll 1997
Various Artists
Madacy 2:08
Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows: The Best of Lesley Gore 1998 Rhino 2:11
The Girl's Sound: Fifty Hits 1957-1966 2000
Various Artists
Double Gold 2:07
I'll Cry If I Want To/Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts 2000 Westside Records
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Lesley Gore 2000 Mercury / Hip-O 2:10
The Essential Collection 2001 Spectrum Music
The Ultimate Collection 1963-1968: Start the Party Again 2005 Raven 2:09
No Image 2007
Various Artists
K-Tel 1:56
Best Selection 2009 Universal Distribution 2:09
200 Sixties Hits: 200 Classic No. 1 Songs from the 60s 2012
Various Artists
Maximuze 2:10
No Image K-Tel 1:56
blue highlight denotes editor's pick