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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My First Failure Today

posted by on May 22 at 10:19 AM

I just tried and failed to extract the exact meaning from the mysterious lines of “What A Fool Believes.” What the hell is this song by the Doobie Brothers about? I will give it another shot after lunch.

He came from somewhere back in her long ago
The sentimental fool don’t see
Trying hard to recreate
What had yet to be created once in her life

She musters a smile
For his nostalgic tale
Never coming near what he wanted to say
Only to realize
It never really was

She had a place in his life
He never made her think twice
As he rises to her apology
Anybody else would surely know
He’s watching her go

But what a fool believes he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems to be
Is always better than nothing
And nothing at all keeps sending him…

Somewhere back in her long ago
Where he can still believe there’s a place in her life
Someday, somewhere, she will return


RSS icon Comments


he thought she loved him. she didn't. so now she's leaving.

Posted by brandon | May 22, 2007 10:34 AM

He liked her, she doesn't and didn't like him. He is nostalgic for his hope, and holds onto it as a substitute for a relationship.

Posted by Diana | May 22, 2007 10:38 AM


Posted by Sally Struthers Lawnchair | May 22, 2007 10:39 AM

Obviously, it's about Michael McDonald gaining the inner strength to write smooooth music for the Doobies:

Posted by horatiosanzserif | May 22, 2007 10:40 AM

What seemed natural to me:

First stanza. The fool is the personification of her childhood dream. White knight and roses stuff that he hopes will appeal to her romantic side. Trouble is, she never transitioned any of those dreams to reality.

Second stanza. She realizes the the childhood dream was never very good.

Third stanza. He is hook line and sinker, but she tries to let him down easy.

Fourth and Fifth stanzas. He pursues. He hopes his dream is big enough to pull her back to when she had it too. Fantasy is so much more seductive than reality.

Posted by An Interested Party | May 22, 2007 10:49 AM

according to it means "An incredibly sad tune about a man who's deluded by his love for a woman. The guy doesn't realize that not only is she going to leave him ("anybody else would surely know he's watching her go"), but she's never coming back ("why can't love return once more"). In love, hope springs eternal. And in this case, it's the hope of a fool" or it means "is there any mexicans here." keep in mind they're all user-submitted explanations..

Posted by Shane | May 22, 2007 10:52 AM

Diana has hit on the head, I'm afraid.

Posted by Billy | May 22, 2007 10:52 AM

billy, i agree. Diana has solved the puzzle for me. he has nothing in the present and so goes back to a time when he believed he had something, but in fact he had nothing. he's always had nothing but nothing.

Posted by charles | May 22, 2007 10:58 AM

i read it as an estranged father trying to make amends with his grown daughter years after walking out on her.


Posted by ddv | May 22, 2007 10:58 AM

and nothing from nothing leaves nothing
- reverend dr billy preston

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | May 22, 2007 11:00 AM

you get paid to analyze the meaning of 30 year old doobie bros. songs?

can we switch jobs?

Posted by maxsolomon | May 22, 2007 11:03 AM


Nice. That makes the more sense to me than the standard romantic model I was trying to use.

Posted by An Interested Party | May 22, 2007 11:04 AM

It was written by a bunch of potheads. I'm not surprised that it barely makes sense.

But it's about a guy trying to get with an old female friend, and he thinks he has a chance but he really doesn't. And the narrator finds him a fool for it.

Posted by Gomez | May 22, 2007 11:15 AM

I kind of thought it was about me.

Posted by T | May 22, 2007 11:31 AM

I remember in college that I would get really stoned and write 'poetry' and think that I had just written something really cool, important, meaningful and profound only to awake in the morning with ink on my face and some really awful crap written down and nothing to turn in for my freshman english assignment.

I think it's clear that the Doobies did the same thing but every morning they wake and bake so when they reread this they still thought it was know? It just kinda makes sense.

Posted by Alrighty | May 22, 2007 11:59 AM

He's like the hirsute Elisabeth Frazier from Cocteau Twins. He just puts word together or phonemes that just sound good for his voice. He's abstract that way.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | May 22, 2007 1:22 PM

Try this site,

Posted by try here | May 22, 2007 1:28 PM

I would think that if it's about being baked, the harmonies would be harder to hit. So, which is it?

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | May 22, 2007 1:38 PM

You're welcome.

If you have any more need for lyrical analysis concerning addictions to being thwarted, I am at your service.

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