Friends, it's that time again.
For that unanswerable question: who sung it best?
THIS TIME, a special twist because all of the artists featured here have ALSO been previously featured on In Bed With Amy Wilson. Because I love them all. A conundrum is before us.
The song? Only the one everybody should have in the back pocket of their emotional register:
"Runnin' Out Of Fools"!
(Previous Version v. Version: "The First Cut Is The Deepest"; "The Tracks of My Tears")
The song: Aretha Franklin, "Runnin' Out Of Fools"; 1964
Oh God before this even begins I know I am going to love all of these with incredible intensity. But, whew, gotta keep it together.
This is the original version, sung by 22-year-old Aretha Franklin with what has got to be the sassiest piano back-up known to man.
In the dream version of my life, when I talk it just sounds to people like 22-year-old Aretha Franklin and that sassy piano. And I am always wearing a dress with sequins on it.
In the reality version of my life, I am currently sitting in a basement apartment on a thrift-store couch surrounded by shoes which I throw all over the place when I come home and by magazines and newspapers which I subscribe to more of than I should and then never read properly. And also, by crumbs. Sooooooooo, in short, the glamour factor is a bit lacking.
But with Aretha on my side -- and in this song she's on the side of anyone who's ever felt jerked around, which is everyone -- there's little that can harm me.
(Previous Aretha: "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone"; "Nessun Dorma")
The song: Elvis Costello, "Running Out Of Fools"; 1995
This version is off an album called Kojak Variety, a collection of covers which Elvis Costello envisioned would just subtly pop up in record stores like something lost, and found. (A very charming idea.)
It's obscure enough that the YouTube angels and demons had not uploaded it, so I took the liberty. (Alongside a random years-old photo from my computer which is, I kid you not, a cheese grater which I took, I kid you not, when I briefly became very obsessed with the "macro" function on my then-new camera. Like y'do.)
I really like the instrumentation on this one. But to me it lacks some of the real straight-to-the-heart zing of Aretha's version. But I have a different heart than you.
(Previous Elvis: "Sneaky Feelings"; "Every Day I Write The Book")
The song: Neko Case, "Runnin' Out Of Fools"; 2002
And this. This! This was the first way I knew this song.
The depth and warmth and sweetness and darkness of Neko Case's voice is unparalleled.
I know I said I wouldn't be able to pick a favorite but this, this is it for me. Because beyond the sassiness of Aretha's and the cutting nature of Elvis', this has a sadness and yearning to it that brings real dimension to the lyrics. It's not easy for her to tell him off. I sympathize with that more than I can sympathize with the others (in the reality version of my life, at least).
But I fully understand that this is a personal choice for all of us. Like the other two songs featured in Version v. Version, the base of "Runnin' Out of Fools" is strong enough to sustain many interpretations. (There are a few others out there that I chose not feature this time around, like this funky disco take, which I still encourage you to listen to because frankly, it's great.)
(Previous Neko: "The Needle Has Landed")
If you have thoughts on which you liked and why, operators are standing by at email@example.com.