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Poor Fool

This was Ike & Tina’s second hit of 1961, after “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.” “Poor Fool” is a pretty straightforward early-’60s song, with Tina singing about being in love and the Ikettes singing back up.

Of all their songs, this has my favorite opening. It begins with Tina yelling at the listener,

I want to tell ALL of you, that AIN’T doing nothing for me, and CAN’T do nothing for me, you should tend to YOUR business, and leave MINE alone!

No Supremes-style sweetie-pie singing here; Anna Mae Bullock does not mess around.

On second thought, that warning may be directed to the Ikettes, who serve as the Greek chorus of this little drama, telling Tina she’s been a fool too long. “Wake up and be strong!” They refuse to tend to their own business, but Tina’s not listening anyway.

Tina gives a great vocal performance on “Poor Fool”, even her “yeah yeah yeahs” are passionate (and extremely fun to sing along to). This song has a couple divinely weird lines within its standard “I’d do anything for love” formula. My favorites are “I’d give him Prussia [?!] if it could be bought” and “I’d ride a missile if he told me to.” Cold War-tastic!

These bizarre ramblings, coupled with the way Tina wails “HE’S MINE,” really make a strong case: You should not mess with Tina’s man. It also seems unwise to try to tell her about his infidelities. In my mind “poor fool” best describes any woman crazy enough to get friendly with this fellow.

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