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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

November 18, 2010

Song of the Week: Kissing a Fool (Redux)

The Pax Plena song of the week has long been a favorite of yours truly. Harkening from the cold nights of my formative years, Michael Bublé’s Kissing a Fool impacted the way I listened to music in a very fundamental way. Perhaps more than any other song, Bublé’s Kissing a Fool taught me the importance of not only hearing music but feeling it. (So much so that I wrote a similar review of the song back in 2007. Though I am not normally one to repeat material, what I wrote then really did not do justice to the music of the song, and the way I perceive it now. Funny how time has a way of providing perspective.)

Like any good song, Kissing a Fool tells a compelling story. The song recounts the plight of a love-struck bard, reeling from the loss of his one and only. The singer’s reflections on the relationship-gone-bad are a mixture of sadness and marvel at what might have been, and the strength required to throw it all away. Naturally, the music melds seamlessly. Written by George Michael in 1988, this should come as little surprise. In addition to his penchant for cannabis, George Michael, in his prime, wielded an uncanny musical range, and still enjoys a legendary music career – one that somehow survived the train-wreck that was Wham!, leading to much more impressive works like Kissing a Fool.

The song’s music has been described as minimalist in nature, which really places the entire burden of the performance on the vocalist. Like its author, the feel of the song is at times brooding and at times soaring, which underscores the impressive vocal range necessary to perform the song well. In the Michael Bublé version, this broad range flows without effort and without interruption. When the song begins, a smooth jazz piano line, and the soft touch of the cymbal usher in the performance. But there is only a moment to enjoy the neo-jazz sound as listeners are immediately carried away into the relationship’s sad demise by Bublé’s voice .

Midway through, the thoughts of the vocalist become more pronounced, and as the song gains strength. A slight brass accompaniment drives home the power of the singer’s thoughts of futility and betrayal. But no sooner does the crooner sound bitter, than the music returns to the sober introspection that first introduced the song to listeners. As in life, the emotions seem mixed. Not long after the song hits an eerie quiet, it erupts with sound as the singer thinks about the couple’s lost future. At its zenith, the entire brass band joins with the percussion and the piano as the singer fathoms the thought of his love with ‘another man.’

Naturally, the singer is not one to deny reality. The remainder of the song is a quiet reflection marked most poignantly by the jazz piano. In a way, this only underscores how truly far away the lost love is. As the keyboard trails off, so too does the singer who is left only to conclude that his love was, indeed, kissing a fool all this time.

What gives the song its staying power – few songs that are twenty-plus years old are as popular – is its ability to tap into the raw emotions performed. Nearly everyone has loved and lost. Kissing a Fool taps into that small pain and sets that feeling to music in such a way that it transcends the particular circumstance of one’s life. Whether one is still searching for love, enjoying Mr. / Ms. Right Now, or enjoying the love to last a lifetime, most people can relate to the thoughts expressed by George Michael’s timeless work.

With that, please enjoy the Pax Plena Song of the Week, Kissing a Fool as performed by Michael Bublé. Lyrics follow after the jump.

Kissing a Fool
By Michael Bublé
Written by George Michael

You are far
When I could have been your star
You listened to people
Who scared you to death
And from my heart
Strange that you were strong enough
To even make a start
You'll never find
Peace of mind
Till you listen to your heart

People
You can never change the way they feel
Better let them do just what they will
For they will
If you let them
Steal your heart from you

People
Will always make a lover feel a fool
But you knew I loved you
We could have shown them all
We should have seen love through

Fooled me with the tears in your eyes
Covered me with kisses and lies
So bye
But please don't take my heart

You are far
I'm never gonna be your star
I'll pick up the pieces
And mend my heart
strange that I was wrong enough
To think you'd love me too
You must have been kissing a fool
I said you must have been kissing a fool

But remember this
Every other kiss
That you'll ever give
Long as we both live
When you need the hand of another man
One you really can surrender with
I will wait for you
like I always do
There's something there
That can't compare with any other

You are far
When I could have been your star
You listened to people
Who scared you to death
And from my heart
Strange that I was wrong enough
To think you'd love me too
You must have been kissing a fool
You must have been kissing a fool
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