The song's lyric came out of conversations Rea had with his younger sister, who was dealing with her first breakup. He assured her that her life was not over, even though it felt that way.
This was the first single from Chris Rea's major-label debut album. Surprisingly, it initially made little impact in his native Great Britain, but was a big hit in the United States, where it peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It later scored on the British charts, where it peaked at #30.
In America, it is by far Rea's best-known song - he never again made it higher than #44 ("Diamonds") on the Hot 100. In the UK, he fared much better, becoming a consistent hit-maker by the mid-'80s. Two of his albums, The Road to Hell (1989) and Auberge (1991), went to #1 in Britain.
Gus Dudgeon, known for his work with Elton John, produced this track and the rest of the Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? album. Dudgeon gave the song the contemporary hit sound the record company was looking for, but Rea felt hijacked, as he thought of the song as a soul number.
In a 2017 Songfacts interview with Rea, he said: "I did as I was told by a huge producer, and he'd been told by the record company to turn me into the next Elton John, which couldn't be further away from what I was. But they had decided that's what he was going to do. They didn't want me to sing low because that wasn't commercial. That is all, thankfully, just gone now, which is great.
I've still got a piece of paper and on the original lyrics it says: ''Fool (If You Think It's Over).' Song for Al Green. 96 beats per minute. Al Jackson, drums.' And that's what 'Fool' was always meant to be. So, I don't know where that rhythm box came from. But we survived that."
On the strength of this song, Rea earned Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. A working-class bloke from a section of England he calls "the sticks," Rea was a fish-out-of-water at the ceremony, where he was hoping to meet some of his American musical heroes like Randy Newman and Ry Cooder. "I was very surprised to see none of them were at the Grammys and I felt as if I'd come to the wrong place," he said.
Rea was up for the award along with Elvis Costello, The Cars and Toto, but they all lost to A Taste of Honey.
Rea is known for his prowess on slide guitar, but this is the only song he ever recorded on which he didn't play guitar of any kind.
The British singer Elkie Brooks released a cover in 1982, which reached #17 on the UK Singles Chart.
A version by English composer Kenny Craddock was used as the theme song for the 1990s British sitcom, Joking Apart.
Mike from Santa BarbaraChris Rea stated that wrote this song for his sister after her first relationship ended badly.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 2nd 1978, "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" by Chris Rea entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 at position #89; and on September 10th, 1978 it peaked at #12 (for 2 weeks) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100... Even thought it only reached #30 in his United Kingdom, he did have forty-two records make the U.K. Top Singles chart between 1978 and 2000, with "The Road to Hell" being his biggest hit in his homeland, it peaked at #10 in 1989.
Randy from Rio De Janeiro, -There's a lyrical quality to this song that's unusual (to me). Every now and then, an expected word or words is absent.
Examples (omitted/expected words in parens): "Dying flame, you're free again. Who could love (and) do that to you?"; "Save your tears, (you've) got years and years"; "(You're a) Fool if you think it's over, 'cause he said goodbye. (You're a) Fool if you think it's over, (I'll) tell you why" "Newborn eyes always cry with pain (when they) first look at the morning sun" "Fool if you think it's over (it's) just begun"
In my opinion, it works well and makes the song more interesting.