Memory’s Made a Fool of You

One of my favorite writers is William Least Heat-Moon, author of Blue Highways and the new Roads to Quoz, which I’m reading right now. Heat-Moon has said that his purpose for writing is to deepen memory. That’s a purpose I aspire to as well, although I don’t always succeed at it. What I’ve learned from trying is this: There’s a difference between actually deepening memory, which happens when hitherto forgotten events, places, and people are made to bubble up from wherever they’ve been hiding, and taking an existing memory down from a convenient shelf and polishing it up again. (The latter happens more frequently here.)

There are lots of memories I’d like to deepen, like those long morning rides on the school bus, sitting under the radio speaker, back in those early days when radio first fascinated me. While I’m able to recapture a lot of the experience in greater detail than most of the other stuff I experienced as a lad of 10 or 11 years, there’s more that eludes me, like the faces and voices of kids and adults I used to know, who I sat with and talked to every morning, or even whether I sat by myself and focused on the radio, which is entirely possible, but I can’t remember.

And a few songs, too. There are a number of songs that I know I’ve heard, I recognize them by title and artist when I see them in reference books or online, but I can’t remember how they go, and I wish I could. For years, I have been able to recall hearing a song on WLS by a band named Cochise, but for the longest time, I couldn’t remember the title.  How deeply was the song buried in memory? So deep that when I finally found the title, “Love’s Made a Fool of You,” it didn’t ring a bell at all. As for the song itself, I could remember practically nothing about it—a scrap of the intro and a little recurring guitar figure, I thought. With so little to hang a memory on, the fact that I would keep one hanging for nearly 40 years is not so much an extraordinary feat as it is a processing quirk. “Love’s Made a Fool of You” by Cochise may be the single most obscure record I’m able to remember.

To make a long story short (which is something people say after it’s too late), I finally heard the song again the other day. And I learned that Cochise is a band with plenty of connections to later and more famous bands. The group included Mick Grabham, who would join Procol Harum in 1972; Rick Wills, who would join Foreigner in 1979; and B. J. Cole, a pedal-steel guitarist with a long list of session credits. The album containing “Love’s Made a Fool of You” is called Swallow Tales, and it features more names familiar to the sort of person who reads album jackets for the names of sidemen: Caleb Quaye, who joined Elton John’s band in 1975, and  Tim Renwick, an English session musician who has frequently played with Elton, Pink Floyd, and others. Steve Marriott of the Small Faces and Humble Pie also provided some guitar on the album, and he sings on “Love’s Made a Fool of You.”

Swallow Tales, released in 1971, is sometimes labeled a country-rock album thanks to Cole’s guitar, but also to the album’s generally folky/rootsy feel. “Love’s Made a Fool of You” was co-written by Buddy Holly, it was a modest hit for the Bobby Fuller Four in 1966, and it’s one of the harder-rockin’ tracks on the album. At this distance in time, I can’t explain why it reached only Number 96 in a single weekon the Billboard Hot 100, but it’s not so hard to figure out why I’d remember it. The song made it to Number 10 at WLS in Chicago during the week of May 31, 1971, and the station played it for eight weeks.

So I must have heard it a lot back then after all. But when it came to the scrap of the intro and the little recurring guitar figure I expected to hear—they weren’t there. So now I wonder just what song I’m remembering.

“Love’s Made a Fool of You”/Cochise (still in print, believe it or not, on a pricey import; buy it here)

2 responses

  1. You remind me of my having the very same experience. For years I had a ditty that I could only remember very few words to. The only words I could remember were “five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty ?more ways to love you”. As I said, for years couldn’t remember more and couldn’t jar the memories of anyone that ‘knew music’. Most certainly it could have been my singing that hid it for years!

    Hopefully I have it right when I say that it was the Presidents? And the song was 5-10-15-20.

    Well, at least that’s what I think it was!

  2. A great record, and the Union Jack custom label design on the 45 was pretty cool, except for its misprinted time of 3:46. I corrected it on my college station’s copy when I ran exactly one minute short while backtiming to the hourly ABC News. Talk about feeling sad and blue…..

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