The Song Hall of Fame: Fool In The Rain
Every year, I make a little mental list of my favorite songs of the year, and pick an MVP–the song that, for whatever reason, stands out for me. This year, I decided to start up my own little Hall of Fame, my personal favorite songs of all time. This isn’t any kind of “best-of” list; I know that it’s mathematically provable that “Let it Be” or “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are “better” songs than almost anything I’m putting in my pantheon. But the first five songs inducted into the JBHOF each have some kind of personal significance, something that makes me jack the volume every time they pop up in the iTunes shuffle.
I’ll roll out all five over the next couple weeks, but we’ll start off at the top–Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain.” This is my all-time favorite song–like “Raising Arizona” or “Godfather Part II,” when it’s on I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and see this one through to its end. On one hand, it’s a sweet little pop ditty about a goofball who’s in love with a chick who’s apparently stood him up–but by the end of the song he realizes he’s been waiting for her on the wrong block. But it gets run through the Zeppelin Machine, and comes out brimming with sex and power–like the proverbial librarian with the smokin’ body under the dowdy clothes.
“Fool” is on In Through The Out Door, Zeppelin’s final studio album, and it’s one of the band’s late-period high-water marks; this is a Led Zeppelin that mixes disposable pop, broken-bottle blues guitar, frenetic Brazilian carnivale percussion, and even a hint of a waltz rhythm together in this one song. (Hear a clip by clicking here.)
And for me, here’s why it’s Number One. It’s 1985, I’m a reed-thin little high-schooler deep into Zeppelin, Who, and Floyd in lieu of actually, like, talking to chicks and stuff. There’s this absolutely gorgeous girl I know, so far out of my league she’s playing a different sport. But we work together at the local grocery store, we study at the same library, we end up at a lot of the same parties. So one bright October afternoon while we’re both at the Sandy Springs library, I notice she’s packing up to go home. I could have been halfway through administering CPR and I would’ve jumped up to walk her out. So, oh so casually, I ask if she’d like to go to the homecoming dance with me.
She accepts. She friggin’ accepts.
This is homer-off-Clemens-in-your-major-league-debut stuff, and I’m halfway through a “okay, thanks anyway, guess I’ll see you tomorrow” surrender when I realize she said yes. And I actually giggle in delight, while she’s got the kind of polite smile on her face that says she realizes she may have really made a serious mistake.
After she leaves, I don’t even remember the walk to the car–obviously, because I left my books in the library and had to turn around three miles down the road. But I do remember the song that was playing when I started the car–“Fool in the Rain.” And right there, that perfect afternoon, that song was burned into my DNA.
So sentimental it makes you want to puke, I know. But you’ve got a story like this of your own, and you’ve got a song to go with it. “Fool in the Rain”‘s mine.
Oh, and the date was a classic screwup worthy of a John Hughes film…but that’s a story for another day. There wasn’t a second date…not after I buried her in my parents’ backyard. (Joke!)
(It was the neighbors’ backyard.)
Next up: the HOF tune that will make you question whether I have any right to listen to music at all.