Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: George Strait, “Famous Last Words of a Fool”

“Famous Last Words of a Fool”

George Strait

Written by Dean Dillon and Rex Huston

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 18, 1988


#1 (1 week)

April 9, 1988

George Strait’s ability to bridge the gender gap is on par with Conway Twitty at his best.

Both singers had that ability to be aspirational for male listeners, while also portraying a more empathetic, “this is what he’s thinking but he doesn’t know how to say to you” take on men for female listeners. “Famous Last Words of a Fool” exemplifies this as well as any of his hits. The men get a warning of what awaits them if they’re foolish enough to let her leave. The women get the validation that yes, that is indeed what he would feel if she were to leave.

It’s a simplification, for sure, but it rings true to me. We don’t talk much about how positive and affirming Strait’s music is, but it’s one of the reasons for his long lasting appeal. Even if we aren’t the compassionate and thoughtful people of his songs, we can be inspired to be by a well crafted country record.

This one needed just a bit more crafting from the songwriters. The verses are devastating, and among the best in his catalog of hits. The chorus doesn’t deliver on those verses, repeating the title too many times like a sad country spin on “Physical.”

Strait’s in fine voice, as always, and I especially love the piano on this track.  It’s a great effort overall, held back only by the underdeveloped chorus.

“Famous Last Words of a Fool” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I agree with almost everything from the review. It’s a capable and worthy entry from Strait’s catalog of heartbreak songs, delivered convincingly with effective verses, but the chorus definitely leaves the listener longing for another layer of depth. While this song certainly didn’t get lost as deeply in the black hole of country music history as the previous entry from Reba, it certainly doesn’t get much recurrent airplay even on the country classic stations I listen to. It deserves a revisit though.

    Grade: B

  2. Damn, Strait!

    I adored this song when I first heard it. Strait sounds genuinely forlorn and remorseful. His phrasing is in full force here.

    The way he regretfully hangs on to “You won’t break my heart and I don’t love you” in the chorus still slays me. The chorus would collapse under any more weight!

    No surprise this is a Dean Dillon composition.

    Strait will explore this concept of amplifying the emotional impact of words spoken in a specific moment in future hits.

    This song feels visual. I can see her walking out the door as he mutters his famous last words. I can see her driving away crying at those same words.

    It sounds conversational. I can hear him internally monologuing as his broken heart echoes those famous last words on his first night alone.

    Interestingly, I remember this album being fairly coolly received by critics. They felt Strait was already treading water at this point of his career.

    Just to piggy-back on what I said in the comments about Ricky Van Shelton’s “Life Turned Her That Way,” a few posts back, the Faron Young title-track cover put me on a path to discovering the Singing Sheriff.

    I couldn’t believe my ears when I purchased the 1995 Country Music Foundation Records recording “Faron Young: Live Fast, Love Hard: Original Capitol Recordings, 1952-1962.”

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