Fooled Around and Fell in Love

Originally Performed ByElvin Bishop
Original AlbumStruttin’ My Stuff (1976)
Music/LyricsElvin Bishop
Phish Debut2003-07-29
Last Played2003-07-29
Current Gap668
HistorianMarco Walsh


As a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, guitarist Elvin Bishop was a fixture of the late sixties San Francisco live music scene. While best known for his unique style of down-home blues, it was a ballad – “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” – that first sent him near the top of the pop charts. Featuring vocalist Mickey Thomas (later to join the Jefferson Starship), Bishop’s heartfelt single reached #3 on the charts in 1976.

Elvin Bishop, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" – Struttin' My Stuff (1975)

Like many of Phish’s one-off cover songs, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” found itself used as a story element in the middle of a “Harpua.” The first post-hiatus “Harpua” found Jimmy as an adult, years after “all the experiences with the Elvises and the mental roller coasters and all that stuff.” While Jimmy has lived many adventures, the story finds him alone in his room, with no meaning in his life, confused and searching for “IT.” So he loads up his old pickup truck with Harpua and Poster Nutbag, and sets out on the road, determined to find “IT.” After a brief pause to lament his journey at the “Bittersweet Motel,” Jimmy remains unfulfilled, and decides to find “IT” by joining a rock band. Offering the fans a chance to see what Jimmy looks like, Trey lifted his guitar to reveal a T-shirt with the fuzzy face of Jon Fishman. As the story continues, rock star Jimmy “finds that there is plenty of ‘IT’ on the road… every night he is meeting ‘IT’… until it gets to the point that people in the parking lot are making stickers that say ‘Jimmy hit on me.’” Yet after years on the road, Jimmy is still listless and unsatisfied… until he finally finds true “IT.” And with this, Jimmy/Fishman took the mic to share his discovery of “IT” by singing Bishop’s hit. As Fish crooned, the story of his search was revealed through the lyrics:

“I must have been through about a million girls. I’d love them then I’d leave them alone. I didn’t care how much they cried, no sir… their tears left me cold as a stone. But then I fooled around and fell in love… Free and on my own, that’s the way I used to be. But since I met you, baby, love’s got a hold on me.” Fans were confused… was Fishman, wizard of “getting it,” making a proclamation of love and devotion?

Fish continued: “Yes, that’s what Jimmy did. He fooled around. And then, basically, God handed him his little girl… and his big girl… and maybe another ten girls… maybe boys, who knows?” And with this Jimmy/Fishman reveals where he finally found “IT”: in the joy of his family, his young daughter Ella, his loving partner (with their second child, Jack, then on his way), and the many future Fishman children to come.

Phish, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" – 7/29/03, Burgettstown, PA

While some may find it difficult to take seriously a man wearing a donut dress, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” is quite possibly the most sincere song Henrietta has ever sung. While the ladies might not want to accept it, Jimmy is a changed man. It’s in the love of and from his children that Jimmy has finally found “IT” and brought meaning to his life. “And that’s where Jimmy’s at these days.”

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