This popular song about throwing caution to the wind for the sake of love was written by Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom in 1940. It was widely covered throughout the next three decades, with soul singer Brook Benton taking it to #24 on the pop chart in 1960. But Nelson landed the highest hit at #12 with his rockabilly-inspired version, with the help of longtime guitarist James Burton.
One of the more popular versions upon its debut was Frank Sinatra's with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. As always, Sinatra was very specific about his phrasing. He explained: "The story of the song is in the first four lines: 'Fools rush in where wise men never go, but wise men never fall in love, so how are they to know?' But most fellows chop it up: 'Fools rush in (breath) where wise men never go (breath) but wise men never fall in love (breath) so how are they to know?' But if you do it that way, nobody follows the story."
Sinatra recorded this again in 1947 (Frankly Sentimental), with an Axel Stordahl arrangement, and in 1960 (Nice 'n' Easy), with a Nelson Riddle arrangement. Pianist/singer Michael Feinstein told the Los Angeles Times in 2012: "'Fools Rush In' is something [Sinatra] reinterpreted through the decades. It became much deeper. In his later recording, he goes for a high note that was almost off the charts. I hear that section of the song and it always opens my heart and makes me feel that moment of joy when one realizes another person has transformed their existence."
This has also been recorded by Jo Stafford, Julie London, Etta James, Lesley Gore, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Rosemary Clooney, and more. Doris Day recorded it as a duet with Andre Previn for their 1962 album, Duet.
This inspired the title for the 1997 romantic comedy Fools Rush In, starring Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek. Alex (Perry) decides to marry Isabel (Hayek) after a one-night stand leads to a pregnancy, but he's in for more than he bargained for when he meets her traditional Mexican family. The song, however, was not used in the movie.
Rick Nelson performed this when he hosted Saturday Night Live on February 17, 1979.
The lyric "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" is from Alexander Pope's 1709 poem "An Essay on Criticism." The line, or the shortened "fools rush in," would become an idiom describing people who act before thinking. The Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs specifies: "Foolish people usually do not understand when a situation is dangerous, so they are not afraid to do things that would frighten more sensible people."
Bob Dylan used the line "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" in his 1983 song "Jokerman
Elvis Presley memorably opened his 1961 hit "Can't Help Falling In Love
" with the lyrics "Wise men say, only fools rush in." A decade later he would record a cover of "Fools Rush In."
The indie duo She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) covered this in 2010.