Can you believe that we are already a quarter of the way through the calendar year…hooray? With April finally here, the first day of the month marks the nonsensical commemoration of April Fools’ Day. It is believed that the origin of the holiday started in 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. The former calendar celebrated the start of the new year with the spring equinox, around April 1. As such, those who stuck with the old calendar and who continued to celebrate April 1 as the start of the new year were labeled as “April fools” and had a paper fish placed on their back. Unfortunately for some, pranks have gotten more creative in the past half millenium, with many dreading the social expectations that go along with the holiday. Regardless of where you stand with the day, we can all look forward to longer days and warmer weather quickly approaching on the horizon. Here’s some tunes to go along with the mood.
“These Foolish Things” – Bryan Ferry
Released in 1973, “These Foolish Things” was the first solo album effort by Bryan Ferry, the lead singer of the English art rock band, Roxy Music. By this time, the band had already released their first two albums, “Roxy Music” and “For Your Pleasure,” with the help of Brian Eno. This technically may be a solo effort, but the album saw contributions from the majority of the band, including Eddie Jobson, Phil Manzanera and Paul Thompson. The album varied greatly from the existing Roxy Music discography—instead of writing new songs, the album featured only covers performed by Bryan Ferry. “These Foolish Things” is a cover of a 1935 piece written by Eric Maschwitz and Jack Strachey. The song was soon recorded by the “King of Swing” Benny Goodman, as well as by Billie Holiday. Despite the departure from the Roxy Music style, Ferry makes for an excellent crooner throughout. The song tells of an upper-class romance, detailing “a cigarette that bears a lipstick’s traces” and “a tinkling piano in the next apartment.” Despite this unrelatable aristocracy, it is still quite relatable in its child-like sense of optimism in the lyrics.
“I Started a Joke” – The Bee Gees
Nearly a decade before they became synonymous with disco and nightlife after the 1977 release of their groundbreaking soundtrack, “Saturday Night Fever,” The Bee Gees were a much more subdued group. In 1968, the band released their fifth studio album, “Idea,” which featured the single “I Started a Joke.” The song itself tells the story of someone who has done something so terrible that everyone else has ostracized them. The opening lyrics of “I started a joke, which started the whole world crying,” indicates a mistake in their life that is too late to rectify. The following line shows the consequences of the action done: “I started to cry, which set the whole world laughing.” A cover of this song done by The Wallflowers was used in the film Zoolander. It is one of many basic, yet poignant songs in the history of recorded music, but it is a fitting warning for any pranks you may try to pull on April Fool’s Day.
“Chain of Fools” – Aretha Franklin
Here, the legendary Aretha Franklin categorizes all of her boyfriend’s ex-lovers as a “chain of fools” after discovering that he had been unfaithful to everyone he’d been with. “Chain of Fools” was just one of five “Top 10” hits that Franklin released in 1967, as part of her 1968 album “Lady Soul.” This song was originally written by Don Covay, and while he may have had Otis Redding in mind as the intended singer for the song, it was the Queen of Soul who imbues this song the life and attitude that it deserves. It’s no wonder she won the award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1969 Grammy Awards for this song. It was reported by Covay’s son, Tony, that the song was originally about slavery with the idea of a bicycle chain giving him the idea. However, the lyrics were changed to make a story more likely to be appreciated by the public. Aside from being one of Franklin’s favorite personal tracks, she also recalled a story where before becoming president, Barack Obama sang the piece to her.
“That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” – The Smiths
Symbolic of everything miserable about daily life and constant suffering, singer-songwriter Morrissey delivers another melodramatic tale of sadness, potent enough to make any angsty teenager believe they are the star of a new Netflix original. A single off of their 1985 album, “Meat is Murder,” “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” is an attempt by Morrissey to respond to the journalists who claim that he only focuses on the unhappy aspects of life, and that he is a “fake.” The lyrics detail making a mockery of those who are lonely, while conversing with someone in a parked car. The song was written by frontman Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, and despite being a gifted musician, Morrissey himself can be the titular joke in this entry. Often outspoken, and angering citizens of all backgrounds, Morrissey has made comments denying that people are racists, but rather enlightened, and has compared the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway to animal cruelty proliferated by fast food restaurants. Again, Morrissey is an example of someone you can look up to because of their talent, but if you dig any further than that, you will hit a vast layer of insufferable, opinionated garbage.
“Lovefool” – The Cardigans
Last on this foolish playlist is a fun, simple love song with much less meaning to look into than any of the other prior entries. The song is classic earworm—just ask Jim Halpert in an episode of The Office where he uses the song to annoy his then-girlfriend, Karen Filippelli. The song was most notably used in the soundtrack to the 1996 film “Romeo + Juliet,” the 1999 film “Cruel Intentions” and the 2007 comedy, “Virgin Territory”. Written by lead singer Nina Persson, the song was initially hated by the band, due to the popular nature of the song, with Persson claiming that it made people see the band in a new, unwanted perspective. The band even refused to play it live for many years. However, 20 years after its release, Persson seems to have changed her mind, and confessed her love for the song.