“Fool’s Love Affair”
Written by Charlie Monk, Milton Brown, and Keith Stegall
I see Randy Travis is “diggin’ up bones” of another variety.
In all seriousness, what an excellent, unexpected treasure this is – an unearthed Travis single, originally recorded in 1984, and now, thanks to a recording masters scavenger hunt, brought to life as Travis’ first single since his near-fatal stroke in 2013.
The obvious discussion point surrounding “Fool’s Love Affair” is how it acts as somewhat of a precursor to Travis’ actual debut single, “On the Other Hand.” Both songs, after all, are about scandalous affairs and the bleak acknowledgments they carry; a risky move for Travis when “On The Other Hand” was released, especially with its no-frills presentation that planted the seeds for the ‘90s neotraditionalist period … even if it took a re-release to do so.
Ultimately, though, I can see why one song came before the other, especially when there’s a much darker, almost nihilistic subtext to “Fool’s Love Affair.” Whereas “On the Other Hand” comes with an acknowledgment of guilt for one’s actions, the character here is content with stewing away in his own misery and pushing forward with his affair, even despite knowing it’s wrong. He’s not looking for love – he’s looking for pure companionship, and only for a little while.
And a character we should feel absolutely no empathy for is brought to life through Travis’ performance, highlighting an inherent sadness that makes one question – and care about – what happened to begin with to make him feel so empty.
A single updated for the modern times, too, still sounds like it would have fit in nicely on Travis’ landmark debut album, Storms of Life. The piano accents the melody, and there’s plenty of warmth to the careening fiddle and pedal steel to really draw out that lonely bitterness, though the added electric guitar does show poorly they could come across in certain country songs of this era.
Would this have ignited Travis’ career run faster than “On The Other Hand” – or, really, “1982” – did? Probably not. There’s no real resolution to this song other than endless loneliness, but again, what a fantastic treasure this is for country music fans in an otherwise terrible year.