The story goes that Keith Richards once fell asleep onstage while playing this song at a Stones concert. I have no idea if it’s true but if it is, I suspect other factors apart from its opiate-friendly tempo may have been at play.
Strangely – very strangely to me – it was the only hit single from Black And Blue, which contains several of my favourite Stones songs.
In fact it’s probably my favourite Stones album, having belatedly discovered the band after the much-loved trio of Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street.
Fool To Cry is Jagger’s attempt to channel Southern soul, one of those big tearjerking ballads with a falsetto vocal in the style of Aaron Neville.
Like all the Stones’ takes on soul and country, it sits somewhere between hommage and pastiche, usually due to Jagger’s exaggerated Mockney vocals making it difficult to take seriously as authentically American.
So it’s open to debate whether this works as a tender, emotional ballad or a slice of sentimental schlock.
There’s Nicky Hopkins playing piano, there’s nicely restrained drumming by Charlie, there are tasteful guitar licks from American session man Wayne Perkins (but not Ron Wood, who appears in the video having eventually got Mick Taylor’s old job for which Black And Blue was an extended audition),
There are synthesised strings that wrap the whole thing in a cloud of candyfloss.
Then there’s Jagger doing what he does best: a cartoon impression of himself, presenting his previously unseen sensitive side as a daddy, with his daughter on his knee… before getting back down to the more familiar business of making love with his girl in “the poor part of town.”
So which is it – authentic hommage or excruciating parody?
Well this song, and that album, are so much part of that period of my life (1976) that I cannot even decide for myself. It just *is* – and that’ll do just fine for me.