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Chain of Fools

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"Chain of Fools"
Single by Aretha Franklin
from the album Lady Soul
B-side"Prove It"
ReleasedNovember 1967
GenreR&B, soul, rock
Length4:03 (original unreleased recording)
2:47 (released version)
Songwriter(s)Don Covay
Producer(s)Jerry Wexler[1]
Aretha Franklin singles chronology
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"
"Chain of Fools"
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

"Chain of Fools" is a song written by Don Covay. Aretha Franklin first released the song as a single in 1967 and subsequently it appeared on many of her albums. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues chart and number two on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. In the lyrics, the singer has been with her boyfriend for five years but realizes she's one of his "chain of fools," women with whom he's been cheating. Others tell her to leave him, but she says his love is too strong and she's too weak. Yet someday, she predicts the chain will break.


Asked by Jerry Wexler, producer with Atlantic Records, to create songs for Otis Redding, Covay recorded a demo of "Chain of Fools", a song he had written in his youth while singing gospel with his brothers and sisters. The recording featured Covay singing and playing guitar, overdubbed with himself singing background.

Listening to the demo, Wexler chose to place the song with Aretha Franklin rather than Redding.[2] It became one of her chain of hit singles.


It reached number one on the U.S. R&B chart, staying there for four weeks.[3] "Chain of Fools" also peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, behind "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" by John Fred & His Playboy Band.[4] It won the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and later a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In 2004, this song was ranked #249 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[5] The trademark tremolo guitar licks at the introduction were played by Joe South.[1] The song was edited for LP & 45; the original long version appeared on the quadrophonic LP The Best of Aretha Franklin in 1973 (later released on a quadrophonic DVD by Rhino in 2010), and on the 1995 Rhino remastering of Lady Soul. Cash Box said that the song was "a smashing entry that will top both blues and pop charts" with "heavy rhythmic push, and an overwhelming vocal impact."[6]

Live recordings have appeared on the albums Aretha in Paris (1968) and VH1 Divas Live (1998, with Mariah Carey).


Chart positions[edit]

Charts Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues 1
RPM Magazine (Can.) Top 100 4
UK Singles Chart 37

Notable cover version[edit]

  • In 1969, Finnish jazz singer Carola tried out rhythm & blues, recording a television video of "Chain of Fools". The tongue-in-cheek choreography by Heikki Värtsi included girl group dancing and Carola whipping a man in a cave.[7][8]

Uses in pop culture[edit]

In 1984, British Heavy Metal band Tank, released a cover version of "Chain of Fools" on their album Honour & Blood.

Little Caesar, an American hard rock band, are remembered for their version of the soul music song "Chain of Fools", a 1990 hit single from their self-titled debut album.

In 1990, the song was used in the Season Three episode of the TV series Midnight Caller entitled "Ryder on the Storm".

In the 1992 film Sneakers the song is played when the characters are having a celebration of their first success.

The song was used in the motion picture Michael (1996). John Travolta dances while the song is playing.

In 1999, the song highlights Tracey Moffatt's video montage 'Lip', from her series The Montages.

A character sings an excerpt from the song in the 2003 film School of Rock.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 – The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  2. ^ Hogan, Ed (1967-06-23). "Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 215.
  4. ^ "The Hot 100 Chart". Billboard. 1968-01-20. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  5. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". RollingStone.com. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  6. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. December 2, 1967. p. 22. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  7. ^ Hung, Steffen (2007-04-16). "Carola [FI] – Chain Of Fools". Swisscharts.com. Retrieved 2016-09-30.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Carolaa seitsemällä kielellä | Elävä arkisto". Yle.fi (in Finnish). Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  9. ^ Ivie, Devon (21 January 2021). "Maryam Hassan Answers Every Question We Have About School of Rock". Vulture. Archived from the original on May 8, 2021. Retrieved 8 March 2024.